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Pharma wades into the world of virtual reality marketing

February 07, 2018 / Jacob Bell

The scene opens with ambulance alarms sounding. Emily, a bicyclist struck by a car, lies on the pavement as a team of EMT workers maneuver her onto a backboard. Viewers watch it all through the eyes of one of those workers, Han, a migraine sufferer. His vision slowly gets blurrier and the whooping of the sirens turns to a dull ringing noise. The scene fades away as a voiceover intones, "Two in three sufferers downplay the severity of their migraine while at work," guiding viewers to the website for GlaxoSmithKline plc's Excedrin (aspirin/paracetamol/caffeine). It's one of the latest examples of pharma companies investing in virtual reality (VR) to market their products. Though several years old, the technology is still considered a novel way to educate consumers about a disease or convince physicians to prescribe a certain treatment.