EnteroMedics recruits new patients with media effort

EnteroMedics, a device company founded in 2002, plans to present clinical trial data to the FDA next year as part of its pre-market approval bid for VBLOC Therapy, a noninvasive device that targets the vagal nerve and can help obese patients to lose weight.

EnteroMedics, a device company founded in 2002, plans to present clinical trial data to the FDA next year as part of its pre-market approval bid for VBLOC Therapy, a noninvasive device that targets the vagal nerve and can help obese patients to lose weight.

The company worked with Schwartz Communications for the effort to generate interest in the new device and help it garner consumer participation for the clinical trial.

Strategy
The team focused less on creating awareness about the device since it is not expected to go to market for at least two years, says Mark Stultz, VP of market development and reimbursement at EnteroMedics. Instead, the goal was to drive and accelerate patient recruitment.

By placing stories in national and local media outlets, in relation to the larger obesity trend, the team hoped to generate the number of needed participants for the five-year study.

Tactics
The PR team created a Web site, empowerstudy.com, and a toll-free number, which was staffed by nurses. Both were published adjacent to most news stories. Media interest often called for a patient's or surgeon's voice so the team worked to provide appropriate sources for stories, says Helen Shik, VP at Schwartz.

Results
More than 2,050 potential participants were screened, and the needed 300 were secured in the company's time frame, which was especially important because EnteroMedics went public in November 2007 and efficiency was necessary for the company's reputation, Stultz says.

Forty-seven percent of media coverage published the Web site; 40% published the toll-free number.

Future
Schwartz will continue to work with EnteroMedics on a project basis, providing support for the pre-market process.

PR team: EnteroMedics (St. Paul, MN) and Schwartz Communications (Waltham, MA)

Campaign: Clinical trial recruitment for VBLOC Therapy

Duration: January-July 2008

Budget: $100,000

 

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