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If your Rx Web site doesn't have a designated area for physicians, you may want to consider this in your 2008 budget. Here's why:

Doctors often find it difficult to balance their time in the office seeing patients, dealing with administrative chores and making time to see pharmaceutical reps.

Recent studies suggest it's the sales reps who end up with the short straw, because doctors need to squeeze more patient appointments into their schedules. Perhaps this is why companies like Pfizer and Wyeth have cut back on the number of sales reps calling on doctors.

According to a newly released study from Manhattan Research, physicians are increasingly depending on pharmaceutical product Web sites to supplement the information they are getting from the drug reps. The most-visited prescription product Web sites, according to the Manhattan Research study are, Januvia, Singulair, Chantix, Adderall XR, Byetta, Gardasil, Avandia and Concerta. It should be noted that the field survey was conducted in the second quarter of 2007 when The New England Journal of Medicine reported an increased incidence of heart attacks among patients taking Avandia. This may have increased visits to the site, and possibly Januvia's site too as diabetes patients were exploring alternative therapies. The two most visited product Web sites; Januvia and Singulair, have special areas for physicians. Since doctors appreciate content that is just for them, this may contribute to the popularity of these product sites placing them on top of the list.

Considering the increasing number of hard-to-see physicians out there, it makes sense to have a special section just for physicians. Interestingly, physicians who visited the Januvia Web site are more likely to see sales reps than those who didn't visit the site.

Dan McKillen is president of the HealthDay news service

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