Applying technology to the new challenges that drug firms face to comply with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Code on Interaction with Healthcare Professionals, McGettigan Partners (www.mcgettigan.com) has launched the Physician Services Program. It allows corporate execs to manage the logistics of dinner meetings, grand rounds, honorarium and expense reimbursement, and speaker acquisition and communications. Using a centralized, Web-based system, the Philadelphia-based meeting and incentive management company hopes to help pharmaceutical companies achieve consistency and economies—as well as compliance with the new PhRMA Code.

“In the current scenario, pharmaceutical companies engage multiple different service providers to do their medical education content. Within the sea of vendors, the logistics of arranging meetings—dinner meetings, grand rounds, grant requests—are distributed among many different parties as well as sales reps … a very inefficient process,” says Danamichele Brennen, senior vice president of marketing and chief technology officer at McGettigan.

McGettigan’s proprietary PSP software ties together a small meetings management system, an honararium processing module (a McGettigan product since 1998), and a speaker database. Sales reps and/or corporate executives can use the Web-based application to, among other things, create invitations, track attendance, manage check requests, produce year-end financial reconciliation, maintain speaker agreements and information, and importantly, track meeting costs. The system allows management to set caps on meeting spending, communicating to sales reps such things as the definition of a modest price per dinner, the compensation limits for physician speakers, and per diems on expenses.

“When integrating PSP for a pharma client, we spend significant time working with them to set clear rules and responsibilities around their compliance and noncompliance policies and procedures,” Brennen says, noting, however, that McGettigan does not take responsibility if a client’s employee is noncompliant.

The Physician Services Program includes a partner service called EZ-Event, an online restaurant search engine and reverse auction site. EZ-Event, which launched last spring at www.ez-event.com, allows users to select meeting venues from a database of 5,000 restaurants nationwide, send banquet event orders to a selection of restaurants in a particular city, and get bids from the restaurants within 48 hours. McGettigan has negotiated exclusive use of the system in the pharmaceutical industry through early 2003, and will be able to continue the exclusive arrangement if volume agreements are met.

McGettigan announced its strategic alliance with EZ-Event September 27 and launched the Physician Services Program days later at the Pharmaceutical Marketing Congress in Philadelphia. “People were very, very interested, but as in many situations where you’re creating a whole new product class and a whole new area of service, there’s a lot of education that goes into it,” says Brennen. “Our ability to consolidate all the data around [visiting faculty programs], and make that data available to the pharmaceutical client in 24/7 Web-based reporting is very, very unique.”