Physicians Interactive acquires MedManage Systems

From the Chicago Tribune (Physicians Interactive acquire e-sample firm)

Adding to its strategy of helping medical product companies market to doctors online, a Libertyville-based company has purchased for an undisclosed sum a firm to help drug makers reach more physicians through so-called e-sampling of products.

Physicians Interactive Wednesday announced the acquisition of Bothell, Wash.-based MedManage Systems Inc., an online provider of prescription drug sampling…

“This is never going to replace the pharmaceutical sales rep but it provides physicians a choice . . . to get the right information at the right time,” said Donato Tramuto, chief executive officer and vice chairman of Physicians Interactive.

Much of the marketing of drugs and medical devices is left to armies of sales representatives from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries who make personal visits to doctors’ offices. But these firms tend to focus on big prescribers or specialists who tend to use the most devices, these companies say.

Physicians Interactive hopes large drug companies, particularly those that have slowing sales in the economic downturn, will turn to online sampling and marketing as a way to reach more physicians. With so-called e-sampling, doctors can go online and request appropriate samples for their patients at any time.

Two years ago Physicians Interactive was just starting to experiment with e-sampling, in a partnership with MedManage Systems. I interviewed Donato Tramuto (in the very first podcast on the Health Business Blog) and we talked about how e-sampling fit the overall Physicians Interactive strategy.

Williams: I think I understand e-detailing: an electronic version of a traditional detail. But what does it mean to have a sample online? Obviously a sample is a physical thing.

Tramuto: This is not our area of expertise right now but [we] are aligning with other organizations that have done a very good job in fulfillment of samples. With the platform you can drop many of these different services [in]. If you have the physician’s attention now through the e-Detailing program could you then have access to their ordering samples and following the regulatory requirements to fill those samples electronically?

Williams: I know that the reps often use the samples as their currency, as a way to get in to see those physicians who might not otherwise see them except for the samples. Is there a possibility in that case that the physicians may say, “Well, I am actually just going to get the sample electronically and I won’t see the rep.” I’m just wondering how pharma companies might feel about that.

Tramuto: Let me kind of reverse that. What we have found is that you have that category of “no see” physicians, that regardless of what you try to do it’s going to be difficult to see them. We feel that in that case we have a tremendous opportunity to reach them in ways that traditionally would be more difficult. Our experience is that even then in that other category where you have physicians who have for some reason elected this time around to access an e-Detailing program, it has not been our sense that they no longer see the representatives. It’s an augmentation to what has been traditionally presented to them. You need to kind of separate out the categories. With the “no sees” this is a great vehicle to do something different, but for those physicians who are in fact seeable, this is a great way to augment those times when you just can’t get in there.

April 2, 2009

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