After watching the entertaining AND educational Virgin Airlines safety video a couple times at 30,000 feet over the holidays, I started thinking… if Virgin can buck the decades-long trend of tedious and probably useless safety demonstrations — despite being highly regulated by the FAA — what might an analogy be for pharma and the FDA?

Obviously Virgin pulled in expertise far outside of those who simply know the FAA rules. They asked, what are we really trying to accomplish here? Absolutely, we need to check a regulatory box. Some engaging educational material – great idea. (Has anyone studied yet knowledge retention of the new video compared to a traditional one?) Entertainment while people are stuck in their seats? That sounds good for business.

This approach might be applied to the design of drug inserts or informed consent forms for clinical trials. Are FDA constraints tougher than FAA’s? Then we just need to be more creative. Also think about how low the bar is: how often does someone learn something useful from a drug insert or actually get informed by informed consent?

The biggest lesson here for me is about iteration. The sexy 2013 safety video referenced above has gotten tons of buzz including 8 million YouTube views so far. But this started with Virgin’s cute cartoon 2008 safety video with “only” 100,00 YouTube views.

Let’s iterate!