Michael Vinegra

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Illustration credit: A.E. Kieren

Michael Vinegra, director, medical e-strategy, Novartis

In many pharma companies, innovation groups are stationed around either the commercial or developmental folks. At Novartis, however, such projects run first and foremost through medical affairs.

Vinegra has a hard time believing innovation can truly thrive anywhere else. “The rest of the industry takes a consumer- or marketing-driven approach to this—but then they don't follow through with the R&D people or the FDA,” he explains. “They end up backing themselves into a corner. When you come at [innovation] from the bottom up, and generate evidence the ‘right' way, you have a better success of launching whatever you do into mainstream medicine.”

Vinegra's group counts many such successes to its name, among them bolstering recruitment for clinical trials via social media. “It worked because of the power of social media to help us get the right information to people, whether patients or caregivers or researchers, who want to engage in the clinical-trial realm. We were able to locate motivated and informed candidates without running ads on TV and coming across as really promotional.”

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