Novartis, Sanofi debut first Android apps

Now that new Android gadgets hit the market about once a week, Big Pharma has decided to add its voice to that platform. Sanofi-Aventis ($SNY) and Novartis ($NVS) have both introduced new Android apps, and other digitally bold drugmakers are likely to follow suit. But even though Sanofi and Novartis were gutsy enough to jump into the Android arena first, they're still playing it pretty safe, content-wise.

Novartis is offering a technical app for healthcare professionals: the Novartis Oncology Medical Information app, InPharm reports. This will allow Android users--and iPhone and Blackberry aficionados as well--prescribing information, downloadable documents, and a direct line for inquiries to the company's medical information team. Given that the labeling info has regulatory approval, and company staff are versed in FDA rules, this app isn't likely to attract an agency crackdown like a DTC app might.

With FDA scrutiny in mind--and little guidance, given its busted deadline for social media and online marketing rules--the remaining two Android apps from Novartis and Sanofi are disease-oriented. Novartis is tracking influenza via its WheresFlu app, which consumers can use to determine where flu is most prevalent. It's designed to support the consumer drug Theraflu.

Meanwhile, Sanofi has launched its Go Meals app to help diabetes sufferers eat healthy. The app provides nutritional info and restaurant-finding functions. Sanofi, of course, makes several diabetes remedies, including Lantus, its newest drug for the disease. Both the Go Meals and WheresFlu apps are also available on other platforms; iPhone and Blackberry for the flu app and iPhone and iPad for Go Meals.

- see the InPharm story