Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Drug Promotion Takes to the Web

Drug Promotion Takes to the Web

AP Online - Dec. 04, 2007

WASHINGTON_Patients today are less likely to bump into drug sales
representatives at a doctor's office as pharmaceutical companies adopt
cheaper technologies and more discreet ways to pitch drugs.

The changes are partly in response to a backlash against overly
aggressive marketing of the past decade, when many executives believed
the company with the biggest sales force would have the highest sales.
From 1999 to 2001, U.S. drug companies expanded their sales staffs, on
average, by 42 percent, according to the most recent research available
from Datamonitor.

Back then, many physicians dealt with half a dozen or more people from
each major drug company as ever-larger armies of sample-toting
salespeople were mobilized. But the marketing blitz took a toll on

"A lot of practices across the U.S. basically said 'we don't want to see
you anymore because it's too much of an interruption,'" said Dr. Dave
Switzer, a family doctor based in northern Virginia who gives
unannounced salespeople a minute of his time.

He may be on the generous side. Seventy-five percent of sales calls
these days don't involve a face-to-face meeting with a doctor, according
to research by Leerink Swann & Co. Industry executives acknowledge
increased demands on physician's time, including paperwork required by
health insurers.

However, the marketing shift goes beyond a time crunch. In recent years,
media companies have increasingly scrutinized how drug companies court
physicians, from handing out branded pens to funding lavish conferences
at exotic locations.

"Patients are watching, medical students are watching and it's just
become harder and harder to justify these interactions," said David
Kramer, chief executive of Digitas Health, a company that specializes in
online pharmaceutical marketing.

Perhaps the most important driver in the effort to improve selling
techniques is the bottom line. Revenues are shrinking industrywide as
many blockbuster drugs from the past decade lose patent protection.
Dwindling sales recently led the industry's biggest player, Pfizer Inc.,
to cut its U.S. sales force by 20 percent or about 2,500 salespeople.
Rivals such as AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb have also reduced
U.S. sales staff in recent years.

"We've made sure we have fewer representatives calling on any one
physician and made those representatives more accountable for each of
their relationships," said David Snow, an AstraZeneca vice president.
"And the technology actually enhances that by giving them more
information and more ways to present it."

AstraZeneca and other companies are focusing on Web-based visits between
doctors and salespeople. The appointments are made for the evening or
weekends, and a sales representative gives a presentation through an
online video link or over the telephone while directing the physician to
Web pages. Executives say it is becoming one of their most effective
selling techniques.

According to Merck & Co. Inc., the average online appointment with a
physician lasts 10 minutes, compared with 4 minutes for an in-person

Technology is changing how companies do sales calls in other ways.
Representatives used to carry pages of company studies and medical
journal articles. Using tablet PCs, sales people can present their
information faster and direct the doctor to company Web pages.

Meanwhile, the tablet PC automatically records information about what
was presented and how it was received and sends it back to the marketing
department. This feedback can be used to judge the quality of the
company's message _ and sometimes the skill of the person presenting it.

Consulting firm Exploria SPA says more than 70 percent of drug
salespeople carry a tablet PC even though some representatives complain
the devices allow managers to peer over their shoulders too much.

Industry executives say in-person selling will remain the core of their
sales strategy although the past two years have seen an increase in
online promotions that eliminate salespeople. According to one industry
survey, nearly half of physicians prefer to learn about new medications
through the Internet, instead of through a salesperson.

People that design these online promotions say doctors are simply
displaying the same consumer preferences that have made businesses like and eBay so successful.

"I shop online, I consume information online and I don't have to wait
for the newspaper to hit the driveway," said Bruce Grant, an executive
with Digitas Health. "Doctors are just doing the same thing you and I
are as consumers: they're taking advantage of the full power and
convenience these new media give you."

So-called e-details include Web sites set up specifically for doctors
and video presentations sent via e-mail. Increasingly, e-details amount
to mini-movies, using high production values and medical experts, urging
doctors to prescribe the company's latest product.

"The traditional model that served us very well for many years is
broken," said Gary Pond, a marketing executive at Merck. "We're going to
have to evolve to a different way of doing business, and technology is
one tool to help get us there."

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Revolution Health Acquires HealthTalk

Revolution Health Acquires HealthTalk

WASHINGTON & SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec 5, 2007 - Revolution Health,
a leading health company founded by AOL co-founder Steve Case to
transform how people approach their overall health and wellness, today
announced the acquisition of HealthTalk, a leading online provider of
chronic care information and programming. HealthTalk will operate as
part of Revolution Health Network, which encompasses, and the company's affiliations with and provides in-depth, original multi-media health content to
more than 1 million unique visitors per month. Additionally, the company
has amassed more than 500,000 members who receive targeted health
information that covers all aspects of patient needs - from treatment to
quality of life. HealthTalk members are able to participate in forums
that allow patients from all over to interact with world-class experts-
no matter where they are located.

Revolution Health Network is the definitive online health community for
people at all stages of health - from people seeking to improve everyday
health and fitness to people managing acute conditions to people
receiving care.

"The acquisition of HealthTalk advances our position as the leading
health community on the Internet and adds yet another dimension to the
Revolution Health Network family of offerings," said Steve Case,
chairman and CEO of Revolution Health Group. "HealthTalk brings to
Revolution Health Network an array of unique, deep content and
interactive programming that covers the most prevalent acute conditions
facing Americans today."

HealthTalk's strength with chronic conditions complements Revolution
Health's strength in the health and wellness category. The combination
enables Revolution Health Networks to broaden its audience and provide
health-involved consumers with a robust offering of content and services
for every stage of their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

The expanded reach of the Revolution Health Network combined with the
depth of HealthTalk's proprietary content also provides pharmaceutical
and biotechnology customers with a unique opportunity to target their
audiences in a more meaningful way. With the acquisition,
Revolution Health Network now reaches more than 12 million unique
visitors per month, making it the second largest health information
destination on the Internet.

The acquisition brings with it a veteran management team
with extensive experience at many of the industry's leading properties,
including WebMD, Discovery, Everyday Health and Oxygen Media.

"We are very excited about becoming part of Revolution Health," said
Mike Cunnion, president of HealthTalk. "We are philosophically aligned
in our mission to provide the best and most useful health information to
consumers and to provide valuable new opportunities to our advertisers."

About Revolution Health

Revolution Health Group LLC was created by AOL Co-Founder Steve Case to
create products and services that empower people by putting them at the
center of the health system. The cornerstone of the company is, which was recently named the Best Overall Internet
Health Site by the eHealthcare Leadership Awards. The free consumer
health and medical web site marries expert content and online tools with
the power of social networking. Revolution Health also offers premium
services that enable companies to provide health content and customized
online tools to their employees, an insurance marketplace and CarePages
(, the leading service that enables communication
among family and friends when someone is receiving care. For more
information go to

About HealthTalk

HealthTalk is a leading Internet-based health information network for
patients and caregivers living with a chronic condition. HealthTalk
reaches over 500,000 community members each month. The mission of
HealthTalk is to inform and empower the nation's growing chronic care
population by providing indispensable, hyper-relevant information and
support through active communities, multimedia programming and advice
from the nation's leading medical experts.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007 and Sermo Partnership

ReachMD XM Channel 157 and Sermo Partner to Directly Involve Physicians
in News and Information That Affects Medicine

November 16, 2007 - Chicago, IL - ReachMD XM Satellite Radio (Channel
157) and Cambridge, MA based Sermo today announced a partnership in
which ReachMD's innovative broadcast medical programming will be linked
to Sermo's online physician community. This unique partnership will
enable physicians from across the country to access selected segments of
ReachMD's medical programming directly from Sermo and discuss them in
real-time. Also, ReachMD XM 157 will broadcast ongoing reports on
physician opinions and attitudes about the content that is "discussed"
within the Sermo online community. These physician insights will help
deliver on the mutual interest of both Sermo and ReachMD to inform,
educate and stimulate dialogue with America's physician community.

"By combining the real-time discussion and engagement that takes place
in the Sermo physician community with the innovative programming and
broadcast network of ReachMD, the two organizations will amplify the
voices and opinions of the nation's physicians in a powerful new way
that directly influences healthcare," said Alex Frost, VP of Research
Initiatives at Sermo.

As part of this unique partnership, ReachMD listeners and the nearly
40,000 physicians on Sermo will be able to discuss ReachMD programs
within the Sermo community. The partnership with ReachMD is an early
alliance in Sermo's "Discuss on Sermo" initiative, which enables
physicians to share opinions about medical news in real-time and to
collectively interpret research advances with thousands of colleagues.
The partnership also allows ReachMD to report on the kinds of
discussions happening in the Sermo community about its content.

"Both of our companies offer new and innovative ways for physicians to
engage one another and to be heard," said Dr. David Preskill, Founder
and Chief Medical Officer of ReachMD. "By combining broadcast media with
the Sermo community, physicians can now listen to a segment on ReachMD,
then immediately discuss the content with colleagues. This allows for
never-before-possible interpretations."

About Sermo:
Launched in September 2006, Sermo is already the largest online
physician community in the US, with nearly 40,000 physician members. On
Sermo, physicians exchange knowledge with each other and gain
potentially life saving insights directly from colleagues. Sermo
harnesses the power of collective wisdom and enables physicians to
discuss new clinical findings, report unusual events, and work together
to improve patient care. Through its unique business model, Sermo is
free to physicians and has no advertising or promotion. For more
information, visit

About ReachMD:
ReachMD, headquartered in Highland Park, Illinois, is a leading provider
of advanced healthcare information and education for medical
professionals. The company's proprietary technology provides the most up
to date healthcare information in the field through cellular phone,
satellite radio and on-line programs. This technology allows healthcare
professionals access to the latest information in best practices and new
advances in treatment and delivers this information through convenient
and accessible technologies. For more information, visit

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