Pfizer launches emerging-markets discounts

In a bid to make it easier for emerging-markets customers to buy its drugs, Pfizer has launched an discount-card system that offers price cuts of up to 50 percent. The company is unveiling the program in Russia this month, looking to attract 500,000 patients over the next year or so. And it's aiming for fast-growing card programs in Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela, too.

Like the price breaks instituted by other companies in emerging markets--notably GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Aventis--the aim of these is to boost the number of scrips in a big way in hopes of making more money by bringing in less from each patient.

But that's not all. By using a discount card to deliver the price cut, Pfizer will be able to collect information on each patient who uses its drugs. If a patient fails to refill a scrip on time, for instance, the company could contact that person with a reminder. Presumably the info could also be used for direct marketing, as well as for safety updates and the like. "The eCard is an innovative way to partner with society, patients and governments, to help manage chronic diseases at an affordable price," Pfizer's Jean-Michel Halfon tells the Financial Times.

- read the FT coverage