In a report released Thursday by Healthbanks, Burlington, Mass., authors Michael S. Brown of MSB Associates and Jack Barrette detail pharmaceutical companies' race to secure the online communication channel between physicians and patients. In the last 12 months alone, pharmaceutical companies such as Schering-Plough, Pfizer and Aventis have poured millions of dollars into new programs to enhance the education, communication and business offerings of physicians in hopes of locking their competitors out of this critical channel. For some, this effort has already paid off handsomely, with one company reporting 60,000 physicians recruited into its program and another reaping a total prescription growth of 23% compared to a background market growth of 5%.

Pharmaceutical companies are elbowing for dominance as the chief provider of online patient -- physician communication. ``They don't want to be squeezed out of the close connections that come about through offering these programs. Doctors are now beginning to actively seek out these programs and are insisting on the highest quality. Several pharmaceutical players have moved quickly to take strong positions,'' said Brown.

``The most valuable programs are focusing in on physicians' daily practice realities with patient data and feedback which can then be further used by the practice,'' Brown added. ``The key is to lock in the crucial touch points in the patient-physician channel and to provide physicians with effective tools for diagnosis, treatment, education and compliance.''

The report details the current pharmaceutical leaders in the patient - physician channel and recommends effective methods for competing by aligning with and locking in physician interest. To get a free copy of the white paper, ``Owning the Channel: Pharmaceutical Companies Race to Dominate Patient- Physician Communication'' go to www.Healthbanks.com or call Jack Barrette at 781-270-4200 x240.

HealthBanks is a pharmaceutical company-sponsored online patient-physician communication company based in Burlington, Mass. Since 1993, HealthBanks has provided patient education networks that extend the physician-patient relationship while providing a compelling role for pharmaceutical sales representatives.

MSB Associates provides consultative and strategic planning services for the pharmaceutical, e-health and medical industry. Its principal, Michael S. Brown, is the author of dozens of articles and white papers for industry media, and is currently the author of ePharmaceuticals' Trend Watch series. While working with market research firm FIND/SVP, Brown developed the first and most comprehensive profile of how physicians use interactive technologies, including the Internet.