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Pharma companies go on an iPad buying spree

By Mitch Betts
May 9, 2011 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Pharmaceutical sales reps are under pressure to find better ways to engage doctors during sales visits. Time-pressed primary care physicians typically give salespeople only 30 seconds per interaction.

Some medical specialists have more time than that for sales calls, but sales representatives "still struggle with their ability to differentiate themselves through clear, concise, and interactive messaging," Eric Newmark, an analyst at IDC Health Insights, said in a blog post last month.

The pharmaceutical industry apparently has a solution to the problem: Buy a bunch of Apple iPads to give salespeople "a quicker, lighter and more attractive way of displaying drug-related information," Newmark wrote.

Most companies are showing no interest in rival tablets in their headlong rush to the iPad, he said, and they aren't waiting for vendors to release salesforce automation applications that are optimized for the iPad.

"Several major pharmaceutical companies are putting the cart before the horse by purchasing iPads in large quantities prior to even owning a single application to run on the iPad," Newmark said. "More than one company has told us they have already purchased iPads in significant volume and are storing them for later use," when sales apps become available.

Newmark concluded that "the skyrocketing adoption of iPads in pharma sales and marketing" will put Apple in a great position to "quickly become a dominant hardware vendor" in that market.

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