AstraZeneca has launched a professional site for its Vimovo arthritis drug that features a live chat option.

The site, at, lets docs chat with AstraZeneca “account specialists,” order samples, view up to 200 live webcasts about the drug in its “Speakers Forum” series, and download discount cards for patients.

“What we’re trying to do is to recognize how busy our customers are these days by ensuring that information and services for our products are available and convenient to use when they want to use it,” said Lisa Schoenberg, VP specialty care at AstraZeneca.

The platform for the site, executed by agency Digitas, will be gradually deployed across the company’s product line. While elements like patient savings cards, online samples and access to prescribing and formulary info are already in place on many sites, AstraZeneca sees the more personal elements – live chats with reps, video details and educational webcasts – giving them an edge.

Schoenberg says online efforts like these won’t replace in-person promotion.

“There’s nothing like actually sitting down and having a conversation, even if it’s in the hallway, eye-to-eye with somebody and being able to engage with your customers, answer their questions and provide them with relevant information,” said Schoenberg. But it is an acknowledgment of diminished sales forces and the increasing difficulty of getting a foot in the door at the doctor’s office. “We’re trying to take the best of what we’ve done in the past and build on it to see if we can redefine the effective launch of a pharmaceutical product in a new environment and a new time,” she said.

A combo NSAID/PPI drug (naproxen/esomeprazole magnesium), Vimovo won FDA approval in April for the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Launched late last month, Vimovo carries a boxed warning for cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks.