GOOGLE DRUG ADS

Last month, Google set aside $500 million to potentially settle a Justice Department investigation into allegations of profiting off online pharmacy advertisements that violate U.S. laws, according to the Wall Street Journal. The investigation is examining whether Google knowingly accepted ads from “rogue online pharmacies” that break the law by selling counterfeit or expired medication or dispense medications without a valid doctor’s prescription. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2006 Google was informed by several organizations that PharmacyChecker.com, the company it used to vet its pharmacy advertisers, failed to prevent illegal drug advertisements.

Google, along with Yahoo and Microsoft, continued to use PharmacyChecker, despite several more warnings, until dropping it in 2010 and agreeing to use a verified list of pharmacies from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

MORE CONSUMER FRIENDLY

PDR Network released its first consumer guide, the PDR Consumer Guide to Prescription Drugs, from its newly launched PDR Consumer Book imprint. The new title is designed to allow consumers to “know what their doctors know” about FDA-approved prescription drugs in an easy-to-understand format with information on dosages, side effects, interactions and more.

New Waiting-Room Networks AccentHealth, one of America’s largest health education television networks, announced nine new condition-specific networks that will reach 13 million patients in doctors’ waiting rooms each month. The new networks will cover: Diabetes Health, Heart Health, Men’s Health, Mental Health, Senior Women’s Health, Rheumatology, Allergies, Asthma, and GERD.

MORE DOCS STAYING PUT

SK&A released an update to its “Physicians on the Move” report, revealing that the turnover rate of office-based physicians in 2011 is 11.3%, a one percent drop from last year. The four-year average of physicians who moved to a new location, retired, or passed away is 14.2%. Four years ago the turnover rate was 18.2%, so the decline indicates a continued stability among practicing physicians as they are staying put in their jobs
during this economic recession.

SENATE CRITICIZES ANTI-GENERIC TACTICS

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and senior Committee Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter along with a new Committee Report to the FDA blasting the agency for its failure to fully investigate a citizen petition to delay generic alternatives to Sanofi-Aventis’ blockbuster blood-thinner drug Lovenox in 2003. The citizen petition process allows individuals and experts to raise concerns about new drug alternatives. An investigation by the Senate Finance Committee revealed that the groups involved in this petition received funds from Sanofi. The Society of Hospital Medicine and the North American Thrombosis Forum received more than $2 million each, while Dr. Victor Tapson, a Duke University medical professor, received more than $200,000. The Senators also asked the FDA to inform them on what is being done to ensure the integrity and transparency of the citizen petition process.

OVERSEAS IS NOT FREE

According to Reuters, AstraZeneca will no longer pay for doctors to attend international medical congresses. This is a first for the industry and it may even force rivals to follow AstraZeneca’s example. AstraZeneca chief executive David Brennan announced the change at an industry conference last month and said that they took this step because it should not look like the company is offering incentives to prescribers to use its products.

AGENCY ALLIANCE

Topin & Associates, a healthcare marketing agency, and Advanced Clinical Concepts (ACC), a med- ical and scientific communications agency, have formed a strategic partnership that offers clients a new approach dubbed the “science bridge.” This approach would help clients create core scientific content that provides continuity throughout the entire promotional plan. ACC will provide a team of medical and clinical experts while Topin provides creative and tactical support.

NEED-TO-KNOW STATS

HubSpot has complied 100 Awesome Marketing Stats, Charts & Graphs based on research and data from a variety of sources with info on inbound vs. outbound marketing, SEO, and social media. Highlights include: 61% of marketers will invest more in earned media in 2011 (publicity gained through methods other than advertising); more than half of marketers will increase their inbound marketing budget (social media, SEO, webinars); 63% of companies said using social media has increased marketing effectiveness. View all 100 at http://tinyurl.com/3k27ghd.

ADHERENCE HELPER

Med Time Technology is aiming to address the multi-billion dollar adherence problem with The Pill Timer, a simple device that fits directly onto prescription pill vials and has a loud audible alarm, flashing light, and easy to read LCD screen.

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