5,000 Pfizer reps set to get tablet PCs

By this summer, Pfizer plans to deploy tablet PCs to 5,000 primary care, oncology, established products and specialty care reps detailing about 22 products. The devices help provide physicians with more timely information and help Pfizer ensure reps are appropriately distributing samples or fielding physician requests for medical information.

The PCs were distributed to the oncology and psychiatry sales forces in 2009, as well as half the primary care field force. The balance of primary care sales reps will get the devices in 2010, a company spokesperson told MM&M.

Planning for the tablet PCs began about 18 months ago, the spokesperson said, adding that the system was designed to permit the company to be more responsive, open and timely in discussions with physicians about the medicines they prescribe to patients, and to provide them with samples in an efficient and compliant manner.

The technology also allows the drug maker to add additional controls to help it meet legal obligations and compliance duties stipulated under a corporate integrity agreement signed last year, following the company's record $2.3 billion settlement with the government to settle charges that it improperly marketed certain products for off-label uses.

Among the ways the government said Pfizer salespeople conducted off-label promotion were improper distribution of samples and handling of doctors' medical questions.

Now, when a rep enters a doctor's name into the tablet PC, the PC displays a list of pre-approved product presentations. The rep can only promote a product and give starters of that product to appropriate healthcare providers based upon the provider's specialty and the FDA-approved label for that product.  

All medical inquiries are retained in case the government wants to review them.

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