Merck reaches doctors in India with online teaching tool

Doctor education is not a new way for pharma companies to make a name for themselves in emerging countries where methods like DTC advertising won't do the trick. But Merck ($MRK) has put its own spin on that doctor education with its online portal, and now it's bringing the service to India.

The medical education website, which partners with journals like The Lancet and JAMA to provide doctors with news, research developments, healthcare technologies and medical practices, launched in India last week free of charge to professionals, LiveMint reports.

"This unique medical education service to support comprehensive healthcare management provides Indian doctors updated information to expand their knowledge and expertise," K.G. Ananthakrishnan, managing director of Merck's India arm, told the publication.

While Merck's site is already up and running in 40 countries around the world, it will be particularly useful in places like India, where health practitioners rely on sponsored medical conferences to update themselves on the latest developments, LiveMint notes. Doctor education efforts have been known to win points with both doctors and public-health-focused local officials, too--relationships that can be important in countries where companies make their sales through tender offers.

Univadis is just the latest in a series of Big Pharma doctor-training efforts in India. Sanofi ($SNY), for one, has been educating docs there since 2009, when it recruited city doctors to mentor rural practitioners with a goal of conducting workshops with 100,000 of them by 2015.

But new-age educational tools like Merck's are not just for emerging countries; the New Jersey drugmaker has the program up and running in established drug markets like the U.K., Germany and Japan. And Sanofi boasts a web portal for Spanish pharmacists, De Sanofi a tu Farmacia--From Sanofi to your Pharmacy--that provides pharmacists with information, training, news and pharmaceuticals information.

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