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Med trackers get detailed

We all know that pharma companies collect prescription data, but according to this article, one of the companies that collects this data for pharma, ImpactRX, goes a whole lot farther than most, if not all, other med trackers. The company provides PDAs to high-prescribing docs, who record every detail of a patient visit immediately after the patient leaves. The docs, the article says, are paid an honararium that is commensurate with the cost of the time they spend on the program. From the article:

    Unlike companies such as IMS Health, which provide data about prescriptions dispensed by pharmacies, ImpactRX supplies information about prescriptions written. (Occasionally pharmacists, either at the request of patients or to avoid dangerous drug interactions, will change a prescription before it is dispensed.)

    This information is useful to drug companies in that it allows them to see the prescribing physicians' intentions, as well as--perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle--the role marketing efforts played in shaping those intentions. This last bit of information is why ImpactRX calls itself the first PRO (Promotion Research Organization). Not only do its network physicians record patient and prescribing information; they also supply data to drug companies about the very effectiveness of their own and their competitors' marketing efforts.

    Every encounter with a sales representative is recorded, for example, as well as any participation in pharmaceutical-sponsored meetings and events. During sales calls, ImpactRX's physicians note such things as the company represented and the products discussed, the effectiveness of the promotional message, whether literature was used, and the length and location of the visit.

The article concludes:

    Through the purchasing of prescription records, pharmaceutical companies can target the doctors they want to prescribe more of their drugs, and through the information a company like ImpactRX supplies, they can learn the most effective ways to influence them. But in a just healthcare system, drug companies would not be examining better ways to market and influence doctors, but rather examining better ways to objectively educate them, so that doctors, and not the drug companies, can make the best decisions for patients.

To which I say, right on!

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