Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) has announced an unusual marketing ploy in Israel. For the first time, the company will sell its Viagra drug for treating impotence legally and completely officially on the Internet. A doctor's prescription will still be required, but there will be no need to go physically to a pharmacist. This will be the first time a prescription drug is sold in Israeli via the Internet. Internet pharmacies do exist in Israel, but they sell only non-prescription drugs.
Pfizer is taking this step as part of a multi-faceted war against drug counterfeiters, who operate, among other ways, via the Internet, posing as Pfizer representatives. The company fights the counterfeiters both through advertising and through the police, but with limited success. "A survey we carried out found that only 12% of the population was aware that Viagra bought via the Internet was counterfeit. Most people think that it is genuine Viagra, only sold through illegal distribution channels," says Ofra Feinmesser, country manager of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Israel Ltd.
There can be serious consequences of this. Feinmesser relates how a man who used counterfeit Viagra died recently at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot. "High levels of iron were found in his blood," she says, "They'll put anything in counterfeit drugs."
How will you ensure that counterfeiters don't copy your website?
"The site is secured as well as Pfizer knows how. It will carry the Ministry of Health's stamp of approval. Doctors will know how to direct patients to the correct site, and our own media campaigns will help, within the limits of legal drug marketing in Israel."
The site www.original-pill.co.il will direct buyers to the Internet pharmacies where they can order original Viagra by scanning or faxing the doctor's prescription.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 7, 2010
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