Boehringer Ingelheim takes hep C message online

Boehringer Ingelheim, among the droves of drug developers developing new hepatitis C drugs, has released a U.S. website with information and resources for patients with the liver-damaging disease and physicians. The unveiling of the site,, comes as Boehringer advances to a late-stage trial of an all-oral regimen for treating the chronic condition.

With the new website, Boehringer has married its digital and hep C efforts. It features videos for healthcare providers, tips for patients and providers on treatment, general information about the disease and data intended to debunk myths. Visitors can easily share information from the site on social media platforms, according to a release from a U.S. unit of the company. Such websites from pharma outfits have been popular in the diabetes arena, yet it could be difficult for some web searchers to get past the fact that the companies behind the sites have an interest in getting people interested in products. This is where the sites could enter the murky terrain between marketing gimmicks and educational resources.

The Germany-based drugmaker is arguably trailing Gilead Sciences ($GILD) and Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) in the development of all-oral hep C therapies that exclude injections of interferon, which is part of the current standard of care and causes flu-like side effects. However, Boehringer, which this year launched a Facebook game called Syrum, is arguably the most daring and pioneering pharma in the use of digital communications and social media.

"The entire HCV community is in need of simple tools and resources to talk about the disease in an informed, supportive way," said Michael Ninburg, executive director, Hepatitis Education Project, in a statement. "There is information about HCV across the web, but is designed to aggregate straightforward and accurate information in a single virtual destination."

The majority of U.S. patients with chronic hep C don't even know they have it, but those who are aware of their condition have some choices to make about treatment. If they want to be spared from taking interferon, they can delay treatment or participate in one of many ongoing studies for all-oral therapies. Boehringer needs patients to opt for the latter to fully enroll its Phase III program.

- here's Boehringer's release
- see PMLive's post