The big drugmaker plans to promote the site by working with medical and patient advocacy groups, as well as with online advertising on other web sites targeting medical professionals and patients, according to theAssociated Press.
The detailed site includes sections written for patients and for health professionals, with explanations in simple English, engaging graphics and clips of video hosts discussing important points. There is also info on reporting side effects to the FDA's Medwatch program, the AP adds. Here is the new site, take a look and tell us what you think).
There are also sections that include a timeline covering steps taken to monitor safety from initial testing until after marketing and how the pharmaceutical industry, regulatory agencies and health professionals work together and with patients to try to ensure safety. Another section gives some insight on weighing risks, showing how people tend to fear unlikely things, like being in an airplane crash, more than common risks such as heart disease, the AP reports.
A fourth section details what patients should know, tell their doctor and ask about every time they are prescribed a medicine; how to decide whether its risks are acceptable, and how to interpret what's on a prescription bottle.
One doctor who is a frequent industry critic calls the site a good first step in communicating to the public the need to balance the risks and benefits of medicines. Harlan Krumholz, director of the Yale-New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, tells the AP that Pfizer is "trying to do the right thing" to help people put drug safety in perspective.
"The spirit of what they're doing is great," he says. "Whether this is the most effective way to assist patients to make the best decisions for themselves, time will tell."
Mike Zarski, chief information officer of the American Osteopathic Association, evaluated the site as a potential resource its member physicians could show patients. He concluded it would be good. "It's the kind of information I would want to provide my family," Zarski said, tells the AP, but noted Pfizer did not follow his suggestion of keeping the site totally separate from the corporate Web site.
Gretchen Dieck, Pfizer's head of safety and risk management, tells the AP the drugmaker decided to create the site after focus groups of doctors, patients, regulators and others showed an interest in having such information.
The effort follows recent steps by Pfizer to address concerns about industry behavior, including changing its funding for continuing medical education programs to eliminate commercial aspects and supporting PhRMA's updated policy limiting gifts from sales representatives to doctors.
Source: Associated Press