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Published on 17 October 2007

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Pfizer researchers get access to doctors’ forum

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A company which runs an online forum where 30,000 American doctors swap medical observations has brokered a deal to give Pfizer’s staff access to the site.

Internet firm Sermo has announced that it will work with the pharmaceutical giant to agree on terms allowing Pfizer’s staff doctors to view postings and reply.

But Sermo CEO Daniel Palestrant said he believed any postings by Pfizer’s medical staff would be clearly identified as coming from a Pfizer source logging onto the system securely from an office computer.

When the service began in September 2006, it was intended as an advertisement-free forum for communication among doctors on topics such as drug side-effects.

But recent online polls and focus groups involving Sermo members indicated there was a clear desire to seek industry participation in a controlled fashion.

And Mr Palestrant said this feedback caused Sermo to enter into the collaboration with New York-based Pfizer.

Mr Palestrant said: “These doctors are saying: ‘We want to have a different type of relationship with the industry.

“Doctors in our focus groups would say: ‘In many cases, the most timely and interesting information on drugs comes from the industry. But I want that information on my terms.'”

Dr Michael Berelowitz, a Pfizer senior vice-president who oversees its doctors, said the firm’s medical staff would be able to access Sermo but it would be off-limits to the rest of the company’s 90,000 employees.

Copyright © PA Business 2007

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