Tuesday, November 01, 2005



By Eric Ladley (Med Ad News, October 2005)


Larger numbers of physicians and consumers are using the Internet more frequently to find information about pharmaceuticals. This information then acts as a catalyst to facilitate discussions on health care between the doctor and the patient. While some searches are undertaken to learn more about specific conditions, many consumers use the Internet to find the cheapest prices for drugs. Pharmaceutical companies have been taking advantage of these trends and going online to build stronger relationships with patients.

The actual number of adults who have ever searched for health information online has grown to about 117 million, up from about 111 million last year, because of an increase in the percentage of U.S. adults who go online, according to a poll by Harris Interactive Inc. (harrisinteractive.com), a market-research company. The total number of Internet users has increased from 69% of all U.S. adults in 2004 to 74% in 2005. The percentage of online U.S. adults who have ever searched the Internet for health-related information, however, has declined from 80% in 2002 to 72% this year. That number was 74% last year.

Although the percentage searching for health information online has decreased, the adults who do search the Internet for health-related information are doing so more frequently compared with last year. About 58% say they have looked for information about health topics often or sometimes, an increase of 8 percentage points from 2004. The percentage who hardly ever search for health information dropped to 14%, down from 24% last year. On average, people looking for health information search the Internet almost seven times per month, an increase from five times per month a year ago and three times per month four years ago in 2001. About 85% of those who have ever searched the Internet for health information have done so one or more times in the last month. Last year, 60% said they had gone online one or more times in the past month looking for health information.

The Harris poll found that people who search the Internet for health information generally find what they need. About 89% of people searching for health information online say they were successful. About 46% say they were very successful, and about 43% say they were somewhat successful. About 90% of people say the health information they found online has been reliable. About 37% say the information was very reliable, and about 53% say the information was somewhat reliable.

A survey conducted by Net-progress (net-progress.co.uk), an Internet consultancy, shows that the quality of Websites in the life-sciences sector is above average. On a majority of Websites examined, few problems were found that would prevent visitors from carrying out the tasks they want to complete. Search engines did well turning up company names and product names. The average number of links to the Websites was high, but some companies have work to do in this aspect of their Website presence. GlaxoSmithKline (gsk.com) ranked high for Web performance, while AstraZeneca (astrazeneca.com) did well in Website presence and quality.

Consumers are using the information found online to interact with physicians. According to the Harris poll, about 57% of adults who have gone online to get health information say they have discussed this information with their doctor at least once. About 52% of people who search the Internet for health information have searched for health information based on a discussion with their doctor. People who often use the Internet to find medical information are even more inclined to discuss this information with their doctor or to search for information based on a discussion with their doctor. About 53% at least sometimes talk to their doctor about information that they found online. About 70% have gone to the Internet to look for information to supplement what their doctors have told them.

The Internet is second only to physicians as a primary source of information on pharmaceuticals, according to a Prospectiv poll. About 73% of respondents look to their doctors as their primary source of information for drugs, while 14% look first to Websites and e-mail. In the poll, about 47% named informational Websites and 37% named e-mail as their preferred online vehicle for receiving drug information. About 92% say they would be likely or very likely to visit a Website focused on products for their ailments, and 83% would be interested or very interested in receiving educational information about drugs. About 34% say educational e-newsletters are most valuable in helping them make drug-purchasing decisions. About 51% say free samples from a pharmaceutical company would motivate them to purchase a drug.

"These results confirm what we see as a growing trend for pharmaceutical marketers to leverage online technologies and communications to build closer and more direct relationships with the consumers who can benefit from the drug treatments they have to offer," says Jere Doyle, president and CEO, Prospectiv (prospectiv.com), which provides customer acquisition, e-mail marketing, and data-analytics solutions. "As a result, we’ve seen many of our pharmaceutical clients allocating more marketing resources on building their direct-to-patient databases through online channels."

Although some people search the Internet for information on conditions, others are searching for better prices on pharmaceuticals. Consumers searched prices for more than 1,500 different brand-name and generic drugs on PharmacyChecker.com’s price database in 2004. But just 20 drugs, less than 2% of the total, accounted for 17% of all searches. These drugs stood out because significant savings were offered for them online. On average, consumers could save 54% by comparison shopping online for these 20 drugs. This number is higher than the almost 40% in savings generally available on brand-name drugs. PharmacyChecker.com has tracked online drug searches and prices since 2003.

The top 20 drugs are Lipitor, Levoxyl, Fosamax, Viagra, Zocor, Advair Diskus, Celebrex, Zoloft, lisinopril, Norvasc, Premarin, Cialis, Actonel, Plavix, atenolol, Toprol XL, Bextra, Diovan, Effexor, and Pravachol. Lisinopril and atenolol were the only generics to make the list. Five products are for blood pressure and three products for cholesterol. The only drugs to make the list without offering online savings of more than 25% were Pfizer Inc.’s erectile-dysfunction product Viagra and Lilly Icos Inc.’s Cialis. Online savings from licensed pharmacies is 10% for Viagra and 23% for Cialis. Their search popularity may result from high prices and the fact that some online pharmacies sell them without a prescription from a doctor.

In addition to consumers, physicians during the previous four years are increasingly using the Internet to find information about pharmaceuticals, according to health-care marketing company Manhattan Research. About 70% of physicians practicing in the United States actively use the Internet to research pharmaceutical information and related services, making physicians almost five times more likely than the average U.S. adult to use the Internet on a regular basis for pharmaceutical information. Physicians use a wide range of online resources from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Improvements in the breadth, depth, and quality of online offerings determines how often physicians use these resources.

"Back in 2001, we were looking at one-third of physicians who were the early innovators, a small group that was unique in the degree to which they used technology for professional purposes," says Meredith Abreu, VP of research at Manhattan Research (manhattanresearch.com). "Just five years later, the market has completely shifted. Now we see that more than two-thirds of physicians rely on technology and the Internet: ePharma Physicians are no longer early innovators; they are the norm."

The top five corporate pharmaceutical Websites in 2005 were Pfizer (pfizer.com), Merck & Co. (merck.com), Eli Lilly and Co. (lilly.com), GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis (novartis.com), according to Manhattan Research. In terms of market share, Pfizer had 50%, Merck 44%, Lilly 25%, GlaxoSmithKline 24%, and Novartis 22%. The top five pharmaceutical product Websites in 2005 were Advair at 18%, Allegra at 15%, Singulair at 12%, Crestor at 12%, and Pulmicort at 11%.

Sales force upgraded after acquisition

Esprit Pharma Inc. has signed a three-year agreement for software and services to help conduct targeted marketing and sales for Sanctura, an overactive bladder medication that the company has acquired. The software and services comprise Dendrite International Inc.’s First Source Sales Support, Validator data-cleansing services, and WebForce Express.

In July 2005, Esprit acquired U.S. marketing rights to Sanctura from Odyssey Pharmaceuticals Inc. (odysseypharm.com). Sanctura will be jointly promoted by Esprit and Indevus Pharmaceuticals Inc. (indevus.com). Approved by FDA in May 2004, Sanctura is indicated for the treatment of overactive bladder with symptoms of urge urinary incontinence, urgency, and urinary frequency.

"After securing the marketing rights to the new drug Sanctura, it was critical that as an emerging pharmaceutical company we had the support infrastructure in place to drive sales and succeed in the highly competitive overactive bladder medication market," says Martin Silverman, executive director, sales and marketing operations, Esprit (espritpharma.com). "Dendrite provides our sales and marketing people with immediate value because their solutions are designed specifically for the pharmaceutical industry. Dendrite’s industry knowledge will be critical as we continue to expand."

Dendrite’s solutions will enable Esprit to develop an understanding of its customers and support services and to make its sales and marketing efforts more efficient. The First Source Sales Support Services suite includes help desk, hardware and asset management, account management, and computer-systems services. These services will streamline the sales process and increase the effectiveness of sales representatives in the field. The Validator data-cleansing services check license data from prescribers, allowing the Esprit sales force to send samples to only valid and current customers.

"We are pleased that Esprit Pharma has selected Dendrite to help drive growth of Sanctura while supporting its expanding sales force and its business initiatives," says Bob Parisi, senior VP, Dendrite (dendrite.com). "Esprit Pharma’s trust in Dendrite to support its sales goals demonstrates our continuous efforts to serve both specialty pharma as well as the big industry players."

Another recent transaction for Dendrite occurred when Warner Chilcott Inc. (warnerchilcott.com) signed a three-year contract extension to use Dendrite’s newly enhanced First Source Sales Applications suite to upgrade its existing sales-force-automation solution. Warner Chilcott is adopting several components of the First Source Sales Applications solution suite, including Mobile Intelligence 4.1 on TabletPC and Analyzer. The company will continue to use BuzzeoPDMA for compliance and regulatory support services. BuzzeoPDMA is the consulting and compliance division of Dendrite.

"We are pleased that Warner Chilcott has chosen Dendrite to help drive the growth and development of its sales force across different sales and marketing channels," says Dave Escalante, VP, product development, Dendrite. "It is important that our partners and customers are completely satisfied and benefit from our state-of-the art products and services."

Sales software for branded products

Alpharma Inc. has deployed mobile pharmaceutical sales-force-automation and customer-relationship-management technology for its branded business unit. About 200 U.S.-based Alpharma representatives and sales managers are using Target Software’s Target Mobile Premium Edition product for data retrieval, sales analysis, and customer management. District managers and regional directors have access to Target Mobile Web, an online application that enhances performance monitoring and management of these sales teams.

Target is upgrading Alpharma’s in-house capabilities as well. The Target Software Support Center is providing a variety of outsourced support services to Alpharma, including help desk, asset management, hosting, and data management. Analysts at Alpharma are using the suite’s advanced data-management and analytical-report generation and distribution capabilities along with its XML synchronization technology to push relevant sales and marketing data to each field user’s Pocket PC in a timely manner.

"Alpharma is committed to delivering exceptional customer service and to providing our representatives with the resources and insights they need to do it," says Bill Schultz, senior manager, sales administration, Alpharma (alpharma.com). "Target Software’s sophisticated technology will greatly enhance our team’s ability to service our customers and increase our effectiveness in the field."

Target’s SFA technology suite is an integrated sales-force-automation, customer-relationship-management, and inventory-management package designed to address sales and regulatory compliance needs that are specific to pharmaceutical companies. Target SFA combines mobile front-end technology and back-end systems and processes and complies with applicable federal and state regulations. Target Software is a subsidiary of the health-care industry data-solutions company Cegedim (cegedim-crm.cz).

"Alpharma wanted a customized technology solution that would enable more effective management of its customer relationships and more efficient support for its geographically dispersed team of sales representatives," says Joseph Hadfield, director, custom solutions, Target Software (targetsfa.com). "Our comprehensive understanding of pharmaceutical sales, data management, and compliance issues enabled us to develop a specialized Target SFA configuration that is uniquely suited to help Alpharma Branded Products better leverage opportunities in the market, deliver heightened service to customers, and increase sales-representative productivity."

Solution for internal sales force

A subsidiary of Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc. has selected StayinFront Inc.’s customer-relationship-management software and services solution to drive effectiveness and track field activity with an internalized contract sales force. StayinFront provides enterprise-wide customer-relationship-management applications, decision-support tools, data services, and e-business systems.

Duramed Pharmaceuticals Inc. will use StayinFront Pharma for its customer-relationship-management platform. StayinFront Pharma offers a pen-enabled system that allows field representatives to track sample disbursement, capture electronic signatures, and manage inventory. StayinFront Analytics will be used for data analysis and decision support.

"We had previously worked with StayinFront through our contract sales force and have been very happy with their software and the support they provided," says Phil Gioia, VP, proprietary sales, Duramed (barrlabs.com). "When it came time to make a decision about which supplier to select for our internal sales force, the decision was straightforward."

StayinFront CRM is designed to provide a single platform that can manage and integrate all points of customer interaction including sales, marketing, customer-support applications, and the Internet. The object-oriented data models used in StayinFront CRM allow an exact fit system to be configured for use with an existing business structure without programming code. StayinFront Analytics uses drag, drop, and drill technology to quickly and easily analyze sales, marketing, and financial information from databases.

"We are very pleased to establish a direct relationship with Duramed," says Thomas R. Buckley, CEO, StayinFront (stayinfront.com). "Our significant experience within the pharmaceutical industry, combined with the unique architecture of our products, allows us to respond rapidly and cost-effectively to companies undergoing accelerated growth and expansion. Duramed is a fast-growing company in the pharmaceutical sector, and we look forward to a long and successful partnership."

In August 2005, StayinFront unveiled new portable hand-held sales-automation products: StayinFront Mobile, version 9.2, and StayinFront Companion, version 9.2. The applications operate on personal digital assistant devices running on Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0. StayinFront executives say the products can improve sales-force productivity through readily available client data, purchasing history, company product information, and calendar and tasks lists.

StayinFront Mobile is a hand-held customer-relationship-management application that allows users to operate remotely and synchronize data directly through the Internet from their Windows PDA. Organizations can use StayinFront Mobile to deliver sales, inventory, and customer service data to field users at the point of sale. StayinFront Companion augments StayinFront CRM 9.2 desktop or laptop-based solutions. Users can download segments of information from the StayinFront CRM 9.2 application to their PDAs. StayinFront Mobile and StayinFront Companion feature a tabbed notebook look and feel.

"With StayinFront Mobile and StayinFront Companion, we are able to meet the mobile needs of a broad range of clients," says Kenneth Arbadji, VP of sales, North America, StayinFront. "We deliver our CRM solution on many different platforms, including tablets, laptops, and handheld devices, which allow our clients to deploy our solutions in a manner that best fits their business needs. Our platforms offer field forces both the flexibility and functionality they require to maximize their efforts."

Software agreement extended

Stiefel Laboratories Inc. has extended for three years its contract with Synergistix Data Solutions for sales-force automation. Synergistix’s Call Activity Tracking System was specifically designed for the pharmaceutical industry. The solution provides managers and their sales forces with automation tools and customer-relationship-management support that integrates back-office data and market intelligence with the in-field marketing efforts of pharmaceutical company sales representatives.

"We’re pleased to extend our SFA contract with Synergistix," says Joseph Rabus, senior manager, sales operations, Stiefel (stiefel.com). "They have the ability to meet our needs as our company continues to grow, and they have systems to effectively maintain the policies and procedures that keep us in compliance with the PDMA."

Synergistix develops marketing sales-force-automation solutions for pharmaceutical companies that are required to stay in compliance with the PDMA and other regulatory mandates.

"After working with Stiefel for almost 36 months, we are delighted that they are expressing their confidence in our CATS products and support services by extending their agreement with us for an additional three years," says Don Schenker, president, Synergistix (synergistixdata.com).

Synergistix also has reached an agreement with Innovex, which selected the Call Activity Tracking System as its sales-force-automation solution for two new customers in the United States. The two national sales teams that Innovex provides for customers comprise more than 650 field representatives and managers. Innovex (innovex.com) is a unit of outsourcing company Quintiles Transnational Corp. (quintiles.com), and provides sales and marketing solutions for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

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Anonymous said...

My name is Giulia White and i would like to show you my personal experience with Lipitor.

I have taken for 9 years. I am 60 years old. I took 20 mg for 9 years and I told numerous physicians about my pain and stiffness and was told that I had arthritis and to keep taking it. I left it at home by accident when we went on vacation and within 3 days, the pain in my legs began to go away. After 2 weeks I knew it was a very dangerous medication. I went to my new physician and he wanted me to try Pravachol. Afer 4 days on it, I was in a fog and thought I had the flu. I have been off it for just 36 hours and feel better. I am an RN and should have known that I was experiencing side effects with Lipitor, but you listen to your Doctor because you trust him. I now tell my patients to trust what their bodies are telling them. Statins can't be good for anyone but the drug companies!!!!!!!!!! They keep lowering the recommended levels so that almost everyone is considered to have "high" cholesterol. If someone is 30 and on this for 30 or 40 years there is not telling what the long term effects will be.

I have experienced some of these side effects-
Joint and Muscle Pain / Stiffness.

I hope this information will be useful to others,
Giulia White

Lipitor Prescription Information