March 6th, 2009

Access to Medicines

Mike Samuelson, Director, access2wellness
Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems Inc.

Nearly two years ago, was launched to provide uninsured and underinsured individuals with a resource to more easily access prescription medications. Since that time, over two million people received information about access2wellness and many have utilized the service to secure free or discounted medications. With the current economic downturn and unemployment reaching new heights, a growing number of people are trying to save money in any way by forgoing or reducing medications. While this behavior can save short-term, out-of-pocket expenses, controllable health issues could escalate into excessive medical costs and undesired outcomes.

According to The Kaiser Family Foundation, a one percent rise in unemployment raises the current 45 million uninsured population by 1.1 million. From 2001 – 2007, those who could not afford prescriptions grew from 10% to 14% and almost two-thirds of uninsured, working age adults with at least one chronic condition could not access their medications. “I’ve seen patients today who have stopped taking their cholesterol-lowering medicine, because they can’t afford it” said Dr. James King, Chairman of the American Academy of Family Physicians, in a recent New York Times publication. Layoffs, shrinking bank accounts, rising medical prices and widespread anxiety that the economy is likely to worsen are prompting people to split pills, forgo screening tests such as colonoscopies, delay elective procedures and turn to home remedies as cheaper alternatives.

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March 4th, 2009

Giving Back Image of the Week

This image captures the familial relationship between children and caregivers…


Project Mercy, Inc., Yetebon, Ethiopia
Project Mercy provides education, health care, and other services in Yetebon, a community of 70,000 people. Teaching vocational skills, disease prevention, and nutrition, Project Mercy hopes to break the cycle of poverty. Johnson & Johnson provides HIV/AIDS education and orphan support resources. Project Mercy strives to offer a community-family model of care that builds on community and extended family relationships. (Photographer: Willie Davis, a Johnson & Johnson – International Center of Photography Fellowship recipient)

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March 3rd, 2009

Trenton Makes — Engineers

For the third straight year, I had the pleasure on Friday of attending the New Jersey FIRST Robotics Competition at the Sovereign Bank Arena in nearby Trenton. As I’ve mentioned previously, I find FIRST fascinating, and though I wasn’t able to stay for much of the competition, I was once again struck by the enthusiasm of the students and their energy.

This year, one of the judges, Laura Corsetto, had participated in FIRST when she was in High School. Now employed by Johnson & Johnson’s Cordis Corporation, Laura helped kick-off the NJFIRST activities by explaining how FIRST helped her with her career. I managed to catch up with her later that morning — though the quality of this video isn’t all that great — her story is nonetheless compelling:

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February 27th, 2009

Boston Blogger Dinner

blogger-dinner.jpgMy colleague Jeff Leebaw and I hosted a dinner for health care bloggers in the Boston area, on Wednesday night.

As always, these casual meetings are enlightening for all the participants, many of whom have virtually communicated, but never met. A lot of interesting discussions came up, and lots of open-ended opinions. Jeff, VP of Corporate Communications at Johnson & Johnson was interested in how a company like ours, with experience and expertise in so many areas of health, could bring value to patients through social media.

Charlie Baker, CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and author of the blog Let’s Talk Health Care , posed another interesting question: “How is social media going to affect my business model in the future?” There was no easy answer to that, other than acknowledging that the trend towards communicating with current and potential health care consumers is growing rapidly. It seems that a social media strategy certainly needs to be part of any business plan going forward, for all health care providers of goods and services. Other participants in the dinner included Dr. Gwenn, a pediatrician whose blog, Dr. Gwenn Is In deals with such topics as child health, parenting and pop culture.

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February 26th, 2009

This Week on the Health Channel: Caregivers

This week on the Johnson & Johnson health channel on YouTube, Rob Halper uploaded some videos on caregivers, including the following about Michelle, who has asthma, and her husband, Gary, who is her caretaker:

To support caregivers, Johnson & Johnson created Strength for Caring, which provides information and ways for caregivers to connect. I wrote about it some time ago, and have since been watching it with interest.

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February 25th, 2009

Giving Back Image of the Week

This week I focus on newborns, and preterm babies, in particular. I attended this moving photo shoot. This image says it all…


Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait®, Kentucky
Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute, L.L.C. partners with the March of Dimes and the Kentucky Department for Public Health on “Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait,” a three-year prematurity prevention initiative to demonstrate a reduction in the rate of preventable preterm births in targeted areas. This image displays the small, delicate feet of a premature infant in a neonatal intensive care unit. (Photographer: Shraddha Borawake, a Johnson & Johnson – International Center of Photography Fellowship recipient) 

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February 24th, 2009

WHYY on Social Media and Health

To help me face the day, I usually wake up to the news from my local National Public Radio affiliate, WHYY out of Philadelphia. This AM, as I digested the latest on the bailout package and other news, I had a pleasant surprise.

WHYY’s health and science reporter, Kerry Grens, did a short, yet thoughtful piece on the complexities faced by companies in the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry as they try to use social media to interact with the people who use their products.

Through a series of interviews, some of which were conducted at the recent ePharma conference in Philly (that’s where she interviewd me and Steve Woodruff) Kerry explained that as people increasingly trust health information provided by other like-minded individuals online rather than more traditional advertising or marketing messages, companies are trying to get their arms around how best they too can be part of those online conversations.

It isn’t easy. As Kerry pointed out, one big hurdle is “something called adverse event reporting” that companies need to report to the Food and Drug Administration.

Now those who read this blog know that I’ve often discussed approaches taken by Johnson & Johnson, our operating companies and others to get involved online .

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February 18th, 2009

Giving Back Image of the Week

Can a picture really be worth a thousand words? I think so. Starting this week, I’ll share with you a “Giving Back” Image of the Week … images from communities we support in one form or another through our charitable programs around the world. Graduates from New York’s International Center of Photography School take many of these images as part of a fellowship program with Johnson & Johnson to capture everyday moments in schools, hospitals, houses of faith, and other community settings. The resulting images are powerful expressions of our partners’ work – the many NGOs and nonprofit groups at the core of these efforts. Enjoy…


Pratham (Mumbai, India)Pratham works to reduce and eliminate child labor practices. Since 2005, Pratham has removed 15,000 children from work situations. Johnson & Johnson supports Pratham’s efforts to provide education, health and residential services to transition children back into childhood. (Photographer: Janea Wiedmann)

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February 13th, 2009

Twitter, Johnson & Johnson and Me

Though I’ve been Twittering a bit, I’ve kept most of those Tweets to personal topics and thoughts — and have tried to steer clear of topics that directly concern Johnson & Johnson and its businesses.

It’s not because I don’t appreciate Twitter or that I don’t want to join in some of the conversations that concern my job, my profession or Johnson & Johnson. Far from it. In fact, I think there is much to be gained by joining the Twitter party.

I guess it’s because I’m a bit, well… a bit old-fashioined, and have tried to keep my personal life and beliefs from mingling too much with what I do at work. In fact, my concern about what would happen if I “crossed the streams” has often stayed my hand when I’ve been on my personal Twitter account.

So with that in mind, I’m giving “work Marc” a voice on Twitter through a new Twitter handle — @JNJComm – where I will share information about Johnson & Johnson, some thoughts on topics that concern my professional life and be on hand to help out with questions about the company.

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