Boehringer Ingelheim debuts pharma game 'Syrum' on Facebook

After lots of pre-launch publicity, Boehringer Ingelheim has unveiled a beta version of its pharma game "Syrum" on Facebook. It's an evolution in the pharmaceutical industry's use of the social media platform and gives the German drugmaker a new tool to educate the general public about the challenges of its business.

Pharma groups have plenty of Facebook pages dedicated to corporate, disease-focused or brand initiatives. Yet commentators have called "Syrum" the industry's first stab at a social game, and it's one that puts players in a virtual lab and challenges them to create drugs and bring them to market. And while the game might fall under the umbrella of BI's digital marketing efforts, don't expect to see any promotions for the company's products on "Syrum" (at least not initially).

"We built 'Syrum' with a view to creating an ecosystem through which we could engage with people around education. It's also to do with reputation management, market research and recruiting talent," John Pugh, BI's director of digital, told PMLive. "We spend quite a lot of time and energy on our social media channels and this is another part of that, where we create a whole integrated framework."

To entertain players, the game marries elements of a card game like "Pokémon" and the popular social game "Farmville" with the challenges of drug development to combat diseases, as PMLive reports. And the game builds on BI's previous plays in the gaming world, including funding a Facebook game for the Diabetes Hands Foundation and tapping the research community Kaggle to solicit predictive data models.

As PMLive reports, "Syrum" has been three years in the making and missed a previous launch date late last year. With the beta version of the game, BI expects to get feedback from a pool of initial players on tweaks and improvements needed, and the full public launch of the game on Facebook is expected next year, InPharm reports. It should be interesting to learn whether the game catches on and motivates others in the pharma realm to enter the world of social gaming.

In other news, BI and diabetes drug partner Eli Lilly ($LLY) have joined forces on an online program called "My Well Planner" that provides diabetics with information about changes they can make to improve their health. PMLive reports that the program is part of the two companies' U.S. marketing effort for the diabetes drug Tradjenta.

- check out InPharm's report
- see PMLive's article
- and FiercePharma's take

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