Ramping up its Internet presence, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has debuted what it claims is the industry's first vaccine Web site that not only targets distinct audiences but also accepts online orders from physicians.
Called GSKvaccines.com, the site for physicians, nurses and office managers also offers new clinical data, patient education material and vaccine information. The company said the site is not a mechanism to sidestep GlaxoSmithKline's 8,000 sales representatives in the United States.
“We certainly don't see this as a threat,” said Carmel Hogan, director of communications at GlaxoSmithKline, Philadelphia. “We see this as another tool. It's simply another way of being able to communicate very effectively with physicians, and it complements the work of the representatives.”
GSKvaccines.com's launch comes a month and a half after GlaxoSmithKline announced plans to boost the online profile of its Nicorette and NicoDerm CQ smoking cessation products.
As part of that effort, GlaxoSmithKline created an online mascot called Nick. This cyber assistant answers consumers' questions at nicorette.com, nicoderm.com and committedquitters.com.
With GSKvaccines.com, the emphasis is on opening another distribution and information channel for GlaxoSmithKline vaccines to support the sales force and wholesalers.
Once registered for password-protected entry, healthcare professionals can glean news and weekly updates and read interviews with individuals who have aided in the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases.
The site also will prepare doctors and nurses with potential questions from patients about vaccines and infectious diseases based on national media reports.
As a replenishment tool, the site allows orders of vaccines for ailments such as Lyme disease, mumps, measles, influenza, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
Site users also can order via VacTrac, a scheduling software package. This software allows healthcare professionals to report and track patient immunizations and booster shots, schedule follow-up vaccination appointments and generate customized e-mail alerts.
At present, marketing outreach for the new site includes plugs from sales representatives and public relations in targeted media.
The overall goal for GSKvaccines.com is to simplify the vaccination process for time-strapped healthcare professionals. Plus, it builds bridges with professionals who may not have the time for one-on-one briefings with the company's sales representatives.
Hogan cited reports that said 93 percent of physicians are online and have access to the Internet. “So it seems to us Web-based communications was one of the quickest and easiest ways of getting to our key customers,” she said.