Wednesday, July 26, 2006

ePharma News from Today

Health search gets easier with new condition-specific sites 
Six new mini sites have been added to the health search engine Health Site Guide, providing another opportunity for pharmas to link their own Web sites to deeper content and a targeted audience. For example, Health Site Guide launched less than two months ago and since then, Merck has requested that the site add a link to MerckSource. The mini sites are available under a section called Health Spotlight, which links users to sites dedicated to six diseases: autism, breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and prostate cancer. Like the Health Site Guide itself, the mini sites contain "pre-searched" links that provide direct access to sections of other health Web sites that contain information about the condition. In addition to links to outside sources such as Mayo Clinic and WebMD, the sites include information about the particular condition and links to videos, animations, support groups, and interactive tools.  
Pilot uses iPods to prepare patients for bariatric surgery 
In another example of how iPods can be used in healthcare, a pilot program in Indianapolis is teaching patients about their upcoming bariatric surgery through podcasts. Patients participating in the "HealthPod" program can review audio and video clips about the surgical procedure, pre- and post-operative care, and other information, reports The first iPods were distributed on July 11 and contain patient testimonials, Q&As from surgeons, and a virtual tour of the facility where their surgery will take place. Patients also have access to diet and exercise tips, motivational messages, and recipes. Doctors at a physicians' office in Wales are also using podcasts to educate their patients about using their asthma inhalers correctly (ePharm5, 6/23/06). iPods can be used to store medical information and act as medication reminders, said Grant Winter, president of The Manhattan Bureau, during Pharmaceutical Executive's Marketing and Sales Summit in Philadelphia.  
Pharma-sponsored Spanish site provides infertility information
Organon and Akzo Nobel are sponsoring, a Spanish-language Web site to help couples deal with infertility. The site offers information about topics such as testing for and diagnosing infertility, treatment options, and finding a clinic. Tools for financial planning, coverage of medical treatments, and coping with infertility-related anxiety are also available. Site visitors can register to receive a free monthly e-newsletter about infertility and information about medical developments. The new site is a Spanish-language version of one that launched last year, the companies report. Organon makes the fertility treatments Orgalutran, Pregnyl, and Puregon/Follistim.  
Sen. Frist launches blog, Web site to discuss healthcare issues
There is another Web site and blog dedicated to healthcare issues, this time from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is also a physician. Currently, the bloggers on the site,, are anonymous, posting entries about drug importation and health costs. Although the site says its mission is to connect physicians, nurses, patients, and other stakeholders in discussions about healthcare and how it will change in the 21st century, some postings are political rants. For example, one post about WalMart's health coverage is entitled, "Elect a bunch of liberals, get bonehead laws." Frist will frequently blog, and according to the Miami Herald, future bloggers will include about a dozen other healthcare professionals. The site is run through Frist's Volunteer Political Action Committee.  
Pharma ties to FDA committee members will get greater scrutiny 
The FDA is taking a closer look at its process for letting people with drug industry ties serve on its advisory committees. Under its new plan, the FDA says it will draft guidance to identify more clearly how waivers are granted and when they will be disclosed to the public. The FDA also plans to make the entire advisory committee process more transparent. For example, it plans to issue guidance about when certain materials used during committee meetings will be made publicly available and more widely publicize committee schedules. The FDA's move to add transparency to its advisory committee process comes just weeks after the Journal of the American Medical Association tightened its conflict of interest policy because a group of study authors didn't disclose all financial ties to the drug industry.  
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