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1/31/2002
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Drugmaker Extends Reach Of Web-Based Service

Aventis Pharmaceuticals' virtual detailing service, which had been available to 4,000 customers, is now being offered to more than 50,000 physicians.

Looking to stay top-of-mind among its physician customers, Aventis Pharmaceuticals has extended the reach of its Web-based virtual detailing service, which enables physicians to log on to a password-protected portion of Aventis' site to get additional information about the company's products. The service, which had been available to 4,000 customers, is now being offered to more than 50,000 physicians.

Drugmakers like Aventis, which produces Allegra allergy medication, are increasingly turning to online services to increase their exposure to customers. "There's been a growth in our number of Aventis sales representatives but only a modest increase in sales calls," says David Hauben, Aventis' senior manager of E-business in North America. Hauben says growing numbers of patients and pharmaceutical sales representatives are competing for a physician's time.

Preliminary results from Aventis' virtual detailing programs suggest that physicians are likely to increase prescriptions of certain medications based on clinical information presented, Hauben says. Additional Aventis research shows that an average of 70% of virtual details are accessed by physicians during non-office hours and up to 60% of physicians request samples after a virtual detailing session. Although Hauben wouldn't say which Aventis products are included in the virtual detailing service, physicians are not charged for the service.

Online customer-relationship management isn't exclusive to Aventis. Both Aventis and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals plc, maker of the Prilosec ulcer-fighting medication, use Web-conferencing technology through iPhysicianNet Inc. to provide their physician clients with access to sales representatives over the Web during office hours. Aventis' ultimate goal is to use customer data collected through these online sessions to help the sales process. The company is implementing Siebel Systems Inc.'s ePharma CRM software to make efficient use of the data collected.

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