Schwartz MSL builds awareness for vision device

BOSTON: Retina Implant AG, a Germany-based developer of sub-retinal implants, is working with Schwartz MSL Boston to build buzz for its technology in the US.

BOSTON: Retina Implant AG, a Germany-based developer of sub-retinal implants for partially sighted and blind patients, is working with Schwartz MSL Boston to build buzz for its technology in the US. The company is waiting for the Food & Drug Administration to okay a clinical trial.

The company's key message is that it is developing a unique technology that helps blind people get part of their vision back.

“We as a European company need a US-based PR agent that understands that this is a delicate situation in the medical device business,” said Reinhard Rubow, an EVP at the company. “It is important to demonstrate success in clinical trials in Europe that might perhaps help us one day to substantiate our FDA submissions.”

In addition to its US work, MSL is also helping the company in foreign markets including Hong Kong and Europe. Rubow didn't provide a budget for the firm's work.

The agency is focusing on reporter outreach. Earlier this month, Retina Implant said vision was restored to blind patients in the UK, and patients in Asia would also be implanted with Retina Implant's microchip technology.

To build interest in the US, the firm hit the phones to reporters, ultimately getting a feature story in Medscape and a cover story in Medical Device Daily, as well as social media posts from key advocacy groups like the Foundation Fighting Blindness and Hope for Vision.

The May 2012 issue of Scientific American also ran a story that featured the technology.  

“The onslaught of media coverage that has appeared after making the Hong Kong and UK news announcements is evidence that the world really cares about this,” said Sherry Feldberg, account director at Schwartz MSL Boston.

However, the company has also had to overcome some hurdles. “The challenge essentially is that in the US we don't have any patients. From a human interest perspective, that's a challenge,” said Feldberg.

To combat this, the company provided a patient who speaks English who has been able to talk about his experience.  

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