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What Kim Kardashian Taught Me About Pharma



In case you missed the headlines in the last few days, the FDA issued a Warning Letter to Duchesnay over Kim Kardashian’s Instagram post promoting Diclegis, the pharmaceutical company’s drug for “the treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy in women who do not respond to conservative management,” commonly known as morning sickness. 

There’s no question that all of this hoopla boils down to a fascinating business case about the use of celebrities for the branding and promotion of drugs.

Here are a couple of important, yet simple, lessons that I learned:

  1. The obvious: Follow the FDA’s regulations by not misleading the public. Similar to other methods of advertising, you have to communicate any known risks about a product when leveraging social media. A simple link to the information doesn’t suffice.
  2. Whether good or bad, Kim Kardashian just gave a huge PR boost to Duchesnay through all of the media attention – well beyond her Instagram followers. I, for one, had never heard of Diclegis before this incident. Only time will tell how it’ll impact sales.
  3. What really got my attention about her post was “…ask your doctor about the pill with the Pregnant woman on it…” The fact that there’s such an image on the pill itself is powerful, catchy, and a masterful lesson in branding. Once again, I never knew you could print such a logo on a pill.

Thanks for the lessons, Kimmie!

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Eugene Sefanov

Director, Industry and Regional Marketing

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