First it was pharma iPhone apps for doctors. Now it's iPads for pharma reps. Otsuka Pharmaceutical is loading up on the Apple gadgets, aiming to help its sales reps deliver the latest drug info to doctors. The first wave of 1,300 iPads will go to the company's reps in Japan, but Otsuka is considering using the gadget all over the world.
"It's getting more important to provide new medical information to doctors more quickly," spokeswoman Yuko Kikuchi tells Bloomberg. "The iPad will help employees improve the quality of their work."
The iPads and associated services will come from Softbank, at a cost of some $2.5 million the first year. The devices will be loaded with sales presentations for doctors, as well as company training materials. Presumably, having sales and training materials in electronic form will allow constant updating with new drug data, for instance, or new company policies.
It's just the latest wave of electronic change for pharma sales folks. Big Pharma companies have been migrating more of their sales efforts online--consider Merck's initiatives in that direction--and they've been forging electronic ties with doctors in other ways, too. Pfizer, for one, has launched an iPhone app that allows physicians to interact directly with the company by asking questions and reporting side effects.