The publisher of the Physicians' Desk Reference, the medication guide that is nearly ubiquitous among U.S. physicians, is launching an online drug sampling service through its Web site, PDR.net.
The service went online in October with limited capabilities, but Thomson PDR, the Montvale, N.J., company that publishes the reference, began notifying most physicians late last month with a letter enclosed in the 2004 printed edition of the PDR.
According to Thomson PDR, 83% of physicians responding to this year's annual survey of PDR users named drug sampling as the capability they would most like to see added to the Web site.
"There really is a very inconsistent flow of samples to physicians," says Mark Gleason, marketing vice president for MedManage Systems, the Bothell, Wash.-based technology partner behind the PDR sampling effort. He notes that pharmaceutical companies tend to focus their sampling and detailing efforts at the physicians who write the most prescriptions for a given class of drugs, leaving other doctors short on samples.
"When a pharmaceutical company would like to make samples available, they come to us with a list of subscriptions (physicians have asked for)," Gleason says. MedManage then helps the drug firms connect with physicians they might not send a rep to visit.
Physicians can request a delivery of samples or they can download and print vouchers for patients to receive samples from retail pharmacies, Gleason says.
The increased, ongoing contact also will help drug-makers comply with legal requirements for sampling, Gleason says.
Initial response is quite positive, according to the software vendor.
"Just this week we had a huge influx of physicians registering," says Gleason.
Only a small number of drugs currently are available through PDR.net, but drug-makers will be expanding their offerings early next year, according to Gleason.
"Docs can get e-mail alerts when new drug samples become available," Gleason says.