Boehringer sets launch date for pharma's first social game on Facebook

Boehringer Ingelheim aims to introduce online players to some of the nitty-gritty fixes of the pharma industry--such as the need to discover new drugs--in an upcoming social game called Syrum. The German drugmaker expects to unleash a beta version of its much-discussed game Sept. 13 on Facebook.

As pharma giants seek new digital routes to reach patients and doctors, Syrum provides Boehringer a way to entertain potentially millions of consumers while letting them in on such activities as drug discovery and clinical trials that go into bringing a new treatment to market, the company's Director of Digital John Pugh explained in an interview on the PSFK website. (Pugh plans to make a splash with the September release of Syrum at the group's upcoming conference in London.)

Boehringer is among a bevy of pharma outfits finding ways to engage their target audiences on Twitter, Facebook and the web in general as more patients and doctors flock to online sites for health and medical info. Pugh has pushed along the Syrum project for more than two years with the help of advisers and others in an effort to usher Boehringer into the increasingly popular world of social gaming.

Call it pharma meets Farmville. Syrum players will tend to make-believe R&D projects as Farmville enthusiasts might virtual acreage.   

"What really sparked my interest in the potential of gaming is that a lot of what we do in pharma is around educating and teaching people; whether that's teaching doctors about specific products, educating the general public and patients about diseases and healthy ways to live, or teaching people how to take their medication," Pugh said in an interview with PSFK. "Gaming seems to be a useful way and effective way for us to do that."

- get more in the interview

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