Friday, October 07, 2005

Always follow your dreams

The Winner Is... Fake Dog Testicle Creator

BOSTON - Gregg Miller mortgaged his home and maxed out his credit cards to
mass produce his invention ‹ prosthetic testicles for neutered dogs.

What started 10 years ago with an experiment on an unwitting Rottweiler
named Max has turned into a thriving mail-order business. And on Thursday
night Miller's efforts earned him a dubious yet strangely coveted honor: the
Ig Nobel Prize for medicine.

"Considering my parents thought I was an idiot when I was a kid, this is a
great honor," he said. "I wish they were alive to see it."

The Ig Nobels, given at Harvard University by Annals of Improbable Research
magazine, celebrate the humorous, creative and odd side of science.

Miller has sold more than 150,000 of his Neuticles, more than doubling his
$500,000 investment. The silicone implants come in different sizes, shapes,
weights and degrees of firmness.

The product's Web site says Neuticles allow a pet "to retain his natural
look" and "self esteem."

Although the Ig Nobels are not exactly prestigious, many recipients are,
like Miller, happy to win.

"Most scientists ‹ no matter what they're doing, good or bad ‹ never get any
attention at all," said Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals of Improbable

Some, like Benjamin Smith of the University of Adelaide in Australia, who
won the biology prize, actually nominated their own work. "I've been a fan
of the Ig Nobels for a while," he said.

Smith's team studied and catalogued different scents emitted by more than
100 species of frogs under stress. Some smelled like cashews, while others
smelled like licorice, mint or rotting fish.

He recalled getting strange looks when he'd show up at zoos asking to smell
the frogs. "I've been turned away at the gate," he said.

This year's other Ig Nobel winners include:

€ PHYSICS: Since 1927, researchers at the University of Queensland in
Australia have been tracking a glob of congealed black tar as it drips
through a funnel ‹ at a rate of one drop every nine years.

€ PEACE: Two researchers at Newcastle University in England monitored the
brain activity of locusts as they watched clips from the movie "Star Wars."

€ CHEMISTRY: An experiment at the University of Minnesota was designed to
prove whether people can swim faster or slower in syrup than in water.

The Ig Nobel for literature went to the Nigerians who introduced millions of
e-mail users to a "cast of rich characters ... each of whom requires just a
small amount of expense money so as to obtain access to the great wealth to
which they are entitled."

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Online health information seekers spend more on prescriptions


A new study finds that consumers who research health information online are more likely to purchase drugs to treat symptomatic illnesses, like insomnia, and generally spend more on prescriptions than offline patients.

According to the latest findings from Ipsos PharmTrends, a syndicated tracking study of consumer health behaviour, online health information seekers are more likely to buy drugs to treat allergies (48% of users vs. 41% of non-users), depression (20% vs. 13%) and insomnia (14% vs. 10%).

But online patients needing treatment for asymptomatic illnesses, such as high blood pressure and heart conditions are less likely to treat their conditions with prescription or over the counter drugs. For instance, only 65% of households who access online health sites purchase prescription drugs for high blood pressure, while 79% of non-users purchased such medications.

The same trend holds for heart medications, with just 12% of Internet information seekers purchasing prescriptions, compared to 21% of non-users.

The findings seem to offer strong clues for pharma marketers for choosing appropriate channels to reach online and offline patients.

“Internet health sites are allowing consumers to control their health outcomes, making it easier to self-diagnose symptomatic illness and understand their conditions,” says Barbara Bernter, vice president of Ipsos Insight’s PharmTrends. “Conversely, patients suffering from asymptomatic illnesses must rely on their doctor’s expertise and office or hospital tests to accurately diagnose their condition and recommend appropriate therapies.”

The study also reveals that households that use the Internet as a health research tool are more likely to purchase prescription pain medications than over the counter drugs.

Sixty-two percent (62%) filled a prescription for arthritis medication compared to just 55% of offline patients, while 80% filled prescriptions for back medication, versus 68% of offline patients. For general pain relief, 66% of internet health information seekers purchased a prescription drug, compared to just 59% of offline patients.

“Part of the reason for the increased consumption of prescription medications by Internet-using health information seekers is likely the proliferation of websites sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and online and televised direct-to-consumer advertising,” Bertner says. “But also, consumers using Internet-based health information may be more likely to request prescription medications from their physicians because they are engaged, active health consumers, who inform themselves of their treatment choices and drug benefits and side effects before visiting their doctor.”

Among those respondents who visited health-related websites, most (51%) went directly to the pharmaceutical company website or drug-specific website to research their new prescriptions. Users also frequented hospital and physician sites (44%), government sites (43%), retailers (41%), and online magazine and newspapers (40%) for prescription-specific information. Respondents were less likely to rely on sites dedicated to a specific condition or disease (37%), general health information sites (37%), and their HMO or insurance company’s site (34%).

And those respondents using the Internet to help in their health and wellness choices consume slightly more drugs than others, averaging 7.8 prescription or OTC purchases, versus 7.6 during the study period. And, not surprisingly, the out-of-pocket amount online households spent also was slightly higher, with $114 spent on prescription and over the counter drugs between May and July, compared to $103 in offline households.

The results of the diary-based survey also reveal that 52% percent of wired households have researched general health information online. Sixty-three percent (63%) of households used the web to get health-related information on a specific condition or disease during the three-month study, and 36% looked to the Internet for information on a specific prescription or over the counter drug. And those who participate in this information-seeking behavior are more likely to request a specific drug from their physician (19% versus 15%).

To learn more about the study, visit .

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Perfect 10: For 10th Anniversary, Webby Awards Founder Reveals 10 Tips for Creating a Winning Pharmaceutical Web Site

Perfect 10: For 10th Anniversary, Webby Awards Founder Reveals 10 Tips for Creating a Winning Pharmaceutical Web Site

NEW YORK, Oct. 4, 2005--Does your pharmaceutical site have what it takes to share the spotlight with 2005 Webby Awards winners like and Pfizer?

From now until December 16, 2005, pharmaceutical sites of all shapes and sizes have an exciting opportunity to become a part of history by entering The 10th Annual Webby Awards, "the online equivalent of an Oscar," according to The New York Times (June 21, 2005).

As the web enters its second decade as an integral part of everyday life, you'll want to speak with Webby Awards founder Tiffany Shlain, who can tell your audience how to score a perfect 10 applying her 10 tips for creating a winning pharmaceutical web site.

Based on the best practices and success stories of The 9th Annual Webby Awards winners, Tiffany's Perfect 10 tips include:

1.      Show community spirit Increase loyalty and sales by providing customers with ways to connect and communicate with each other. CafĂ© Press (Best Retail) uses message boards, chats, offline events and vendor spotlights to build stronger relationships with its customers.

2.      In people we trust.   Make your site customer-centric by allowing users to rate and review products, services, and content. (Best Travel) and Target. com (People's Voice for Best Retail) allow customers to speak their mind and provide their thumbs up - or thumbs down.

3.      Less is more Avoid bells and whistles that slow users down and prevent them from quickly and easily completing what they came to do, Google (Best Practices) and Muzak (Best Professional Services) demonstrate the beauty and power of a clean, simple interface.

4.      Consider a blog While you may use traditional marketing and advertising strategies to attract your customers, integrating a blog like celebrity chef Jamie Oliver (Best Celebrity/Fan) or a podcast will give your site a life and voice of its own.

5.      Stay on course Keep your navigation bar consistent and prominent on every page so that your customers don't get lost. (People's Voice for Best Real Estate) uses guides to show users both where they are and how they can get back to where they started.

6.      Make contact Put a clear link from the home page that leads to your company's contact information. E* (Nominee for Best Financial Services) gives customers a range of choices for getting in touch - from telephone to email. Customers will place more trust in your company if they know you are easily accessible from various mediums.

7.      Set expectations When it comes to online customer service, it's critical that you set your customer's expectations. New York Times Online (People's Voice for Best Newspaper) replies to all customer queries with auto response email that confirms their message was received and when they can expect a response.

8.      Keep up appearances Unlike a movie or a book, a web site is a constant work in progress. Consumer Reports (Best Guides/Ratings/Reviews) keeps visitors coming back by updating its home page regularly breaking news and information. You can easily link to other sites to receive fresh content.

9.      Be resourceful Increase the value of your site and position yourself as authority by providing information and services that enhance your site's mission - like tools, surveys and industry news. Jiffy Lube (Nominee for Best Services) offers its customers safety information, tips for road trips, and much more.

10.  Make searching easy Give your customers the ability to search both within your site and on the web. The search functions on (Best Financial Services) and (People's Voice for Best Pharmaceutical) make finding information - no matter where it's located - simple and fast.

The 9th Annual Webby Awards attracted worldwide attention with a star- studded New York City ceremony showcasing five-word speeches from more than 60 Webby winners, including former Vice President Al Gore, who was on hand to receive The Webby Lifetime Achievement Award from internet founder Vint Cerf. (Gore's headline-grabbing speech: "Please don't recount this vote."). A full list of winners, which were chosen from more than 4,400 entries from 40 countries and all 50 states, can be found at

For more information on past Webby Award winners or how your readers can compete for Best Pharmaceutical Site of the year, please visit The deadline for entries is December 16, 2005.

To arrange an interview with Tiffany or if you have questions, please contact Jill Feldman at (212) 627-8098.




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