Home Pharma Goes Farmville: PR Through Social Gaming

Pharma Goes Farmville: PR Through Social Gaming

If you’ve ever dreamed of running your own pharmaceutical company without the gargantuan research costs and pesky lawsuits, have we got a game for you. German drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim is betting that social gaming will raise its profile and brighten its prospects.

Boehringer Ingelheim launched a beta version of the social networking game called Syrum last week. It’s the industry’s first social game, the company says. 

John Pugh, Director of Digital for Boehringer Ingelheim told PSFK that the social media game, developed over two years by a team of researchers, futurists and branding experts, aims to “promoting science and innovation to the digital community in a fun and engaging way.” Or maybe it’s a way to make people feel friendlier toward an industry in crisis as patents expire for blockbuster drugs, FDA approval costs stifle innovation, and popular drugs get pulled from the market due to harmful side effects.

Similar to Zynga’s Farmville, Syrum lets users build and run their own pharmaceutical company. They can explore their virtual lab to create and discover new medicines and distribute them to ailing patients. Instead of trading crops or cattle, players can trade molecular compounds with others to find cures for certain diseases. 

In each chapter, players are given a disease or pandemic to cure. The medicine will hit shelves when the finished product is ready, taking players through the phases of discovery to testing and clinical trial. Players can share their progress with Facebook friends and invite others to play. The can even poach their friends’ researchers and then send a gift to make up for it.  

It looks as though the game will include incessant news feed updates and requests, among Farmville’s most irritating features. Still, an engaging game about how the pharmaceutical industry works is bound to play out in positive PR.

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