Ben Hirschler
LA Times
June 9, 2011

Prompted by the soaring cost of developing and marketing their medicines, drug companies are embracing the Internet in a bid to drive down costs.

The hope is that digital tools will not only make them more efficient, but also smarter and nimbler.

Pfizer, the world’s biggest drugmaker, is pushing the envelope on clinical trials by conducting the first ever “virtual” study of a medicine, in which patients will be able to participate by using home computers and smartphones.

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At the same time, several large companies are changing the way they communicate and market their medicines to doctors by establishing new online services to answer product queries and let physicians order free samples.

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