Pfizer arms sales reps with tablet PCs to track physician detailing

Always looking to stay one step ahead of those that wish to stop aggressive pharmaceutical marketing, Pfizer has started equipping its legions of sales reps with tablet PCs to help them stay on message when meeting with physicians while also staying within increasingly strict marketing rules.

The pharma giant started planning the rollout prior to its $2.3 billion settlement in August with the HHS Office of Inspector General over allegations that Pfizer reps illegally touted off-label uses of former COX-2 inhibitor Bextra and other drugs. As part of the agreement, Pfizer must monitor the practices of its sales force to ensure compliance with FDA regulations, so the company tightened software controls over distribution of sample medications, the Wall Street Journal reports.

When out on a detailing call, sales reps must enter the name of the physician they are meeting with. The computer then produces a list of approved uses of Pfizer drugs based on the doctor's specialty so the rep knows which medications can be promoted and sampled. A doctor who wants information about off-label uses must sign on the tablet's screen to request such information, and the request gets sent electronically to medical affairs at Pfizer. At the end of the meeting, the doctor has to sign off to certify that the rep followed the rules.

To learn more:
- read this Wall Street Journal article (subscription req.)