Bayer boosts diabetes message with new blog

Bayer has entered the blogosphere with a U.K. blog about diabetes, for which the healthcare giant sells blood glucose monitors and other products. Launched in June, the blog has produced an infrequent stream of posts on a range of diabetes-related topics from a stable of writers with diverse backgrounds in healthcare and extreme sports.

Pharma-backed blogs have grown in popularity as companies bring their brands to online venues where patients have flocked to learn and share insights about their health. On the Bayer Diabetes Care blog, one of the not-so-subtle messages appears to be that you can have diabetes and live an active lifestyle--one of the resident bloggers is an extreme snowboarder and another likes to jump from airplanes. Both have Type 1 diabetes.

Bayer blends in such patient bloggers with healthcare expert bloggers, offering tips to readers on how to deal with a new diagnosis, stay fit or manage their disease. FierceBiotech IT counts four total posts since Bayer introduced the blog and its panel of writers on June 13.

"We are developing this blog to open up a conversation, so as well as our posts you will also see contributions from the new Bayer Diabetes Care panel: a diverse group of healthcare professionals and people with diabetes…" Bayer wrote in its maiden blog post. "They will share their personal experiences and expertise ranging from talking effectively to your employer about your condition to managing your diabetes as an active socialite student."

The blog follows several other similar online efforts in pharma. Swiss healthcare giant Roche ($RHHBY), for instance, has for four years held a summit for health bloggers and sponsors a recently established Twitter page called Diabetes Nest, where paid writers' tweets are posted. Eli Lilly ($LLY) held a similar summit this spring for the first time, offering to cover travel expenses for diabetes bloggers to attend. Lilly is also beefing up its social media presence with its LillyPad corporate blogs.

What's behind the digital frenzy over diabetes? Diabetes offers a huge and fast-growing market opportunity to makers of drugs, diagnostics and devices. The World Health Organization estimated a year ago that the global population of people with the disease was 346 million. And it's growing, according to the WHO. Diabetes deaths are projected to double from 2005 to 2030.

As PMLive's Digital Intelligence Blog notes, the U.K. has a very explicit rulebook for pharma companies to play by with their blogs. Still, there's very little distance between the personalized insights from bloggers and product promotions on Bayer's blog. The upper right corner of the site has a tab that takes you to the company's online shop, which offers a menu of its products for diabetics.

- see PMLive's post

Related Articles:
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Pharma feeds multiply on Twitter
Roche helps corral diabetes chitchat from Twitter

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