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Pharmalot's Ed Silverman wonders how pharmaceutical companies will deal with the impending "patent cliffs" they face that will leave them with no patent protection on their most popular drugs. One idea, he says, is to create an atmosphere of customer loyalty, emulating companies like Apple or Starbucks. Writing in BusinessWeek, consultants G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón present a hypothetical example of a new customer-loyalty approach — a "Readi-Clinic at Wal-Mart, Powered by Pfizer," which they say could not only provide medications, but also help customers make decisions about their health and life habits. In other words, Maddock and Vitón say it's time for pharma to think of a business model that goes beyond pills. "To mitigate the loss in market share from generics, they suggest drugmakers stop viewing consumers as 'druggable targets' and, instead, spend more resources on understanding their needs, locating 'target insights' and building brand loyalty that can extend beyond the life of a patent," Pharmalot's Silverman says. "In reality, though, this is more than brand loyalty — the plan would be to build customer loyalty, too." But is this suggestion workable? In a Pharmalot poll, currently 83 percent of 124 total voters say it isn't.

The Scan

Missed Early Cases

A retrospective analysis of blood samples suggests early SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been missed in the US, the New York Times reports.

Limited Journal Editor Diversity

A survey finds low diversity among scientific and medical journal editors, according to The Scientist.

How Much of a Threat?

Science writes that need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a new US bill is being questioned.

PNAS Papers on Historic Helicobacter Spread, Brain Development, C. difficile RNAs

In PNAS this week: Helicobacter genetic diversity gives insight into human migrations, gene expression patterns of brain development, and more.