Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pfizer-Sermo Social Networking Link

Pfizer and Sermo have entered into an interesting agreement whereby one pharmaceutical company will preferentially have access to Sermo's network of physicians. The following paragraphs from their press release is worth looking at closely.

New York and Cambridge, Mass., October 15, 2007 — Pfizer Inc and Sermo, the nation’s largest online physician community, today announced a strategic collaboration designed to redefine the way physicians in the U.S. and the healthcare industry work together to improve patient care. Sermo is a Web-based community where physicians share observations from daily practice, discuss emerging trends and provide new insights into medications, devices and treatments.

Through this collaboration, Sermo’s community of physicians will have access to Pfizer’s clinical content in tangible ways that allow for the transparent and efficient exchange of knowledge. With access to the most comprehensive and up-to-date information on Pfizer products, physicians will be able to find the data they need, when they need it, to make informed decisions.

“This collaboration reflects Pfizer’s commitment to engaging in peer-to-peer medical dialogue with physicians to better meet our mutual goal of delivering the best care to patients,” said Michael Berelowitz, MD, Senior Vice President of Global Medical and New York Site Head of Worldwide Development for Pfizer. “Sermo’s state of the art technology has the potential to greatly improve our ability to provide physicians with timely and accurate information they want about our medicines and clinical data.”

Pfizer, working together with Sermo’s physician community and other Sermo partners, plans to pursue a number of key objectives through this collaboration, including:

* Discover, with physicians, how best to transform the way medical information is exchanged in the fast-moving social media environment

* Create an open and transparent discussion with physicians through the innovative channel offered by online exchange

* Engage with the FDA to define guidelines for the use of social media in communications with healthcare professionals

* Work with physicians to develop a productive exchange between pharmaceutical professionals and the Sermo community


Here's a video that discusses the deal in some detail

--

I can clearly see the first-mover advantage that Pfizer is striving to get. Instead of creating a site that is visited sparingly by doctors who may have a preference to get on Sermo, they have created a preferred partner agreement. But, i wonder what Sermo may do if Merck or J&J wanted to be on it as well? How will the doctors deal with these competing demands? Who will arbitrate?
--
I am intrigued to see social networking logic go from C2C to B2B. This is clearly an important move--one that may get refined as both parties better evaluate the benefits over time. Clearly worth watching to see what the next set of moves are in this space.
--
update: Here's a short overview of Sermo's business model as described by CEO Daniel Palestrant.

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