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UPMC Adopts Innovative Online Ordering System to Help Physicians Provide Free Medication Samples to Patients

PITTSBURGH , June 30, 2008 — To ensure that patients’ needs are met under its new industry relations policy, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) announced today that it is adopting an innovative system for distributing drug samples to its physician offices, hospital-based clinics and outpatient pharmacies.

The new approach, known as the UPMC eSample Center, will allow physicians to order available samples, vouchers and coupons via a Web-based system accessible through UPMC’s intranet. This “virtual sample closet” will be developed by MedManage Systems Inc., a Bothell (Wash.)-based company that is the leading provider of online prescription drug sampling technology.  

“When UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences adopted a far-reaching industry relations policy in February, we committed ourselves to ensuring that our interactions with the drug and medical device industries produce benefits for patient care, research and medical education,” said Barbara Barnes, M.D., vice president of sponsored programs, research support and continuing medical education at UPMC and associate vice chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh. “With the eSample Center, we will be able to offer medication samples to our physicians and their patients through an electronic platform. This approach will provide both consistent access to medication samples and focus face-to-face interaction between our physicians and drug company representatives on matters of education. We believe this new approach reduces the potential for those interactions to improperly influence care.”

The UPMC eSample Center is expected to begin operating in early August, providing a wide range of medication samples to physicians. Following the initial deployment and refinement phase, the new system will become the exclusive mechanism for distributing samples at UPMC. Pharmaceutical representatives still will continue to access UPMC’s physician offices and clinics by appointment for providing drug information and education.  

MedManage’s system, which complies with drug sample distribution-related regulations, will serve as a personalized, one-stop, online ordering utility through which UPMC physicians will request a variety of brands from multiple manufacturers. Samples will be delivered directly to clinical practice sites from the pharmaceutical companies’ sample fulfillment centers.

“We are excited about the development of the UPMC eSample Center and its ability to serve our patients, while minimizing potential conflicts of interest in our interactions with the pharmaceutical industry,” said Kelley Wasicek, R.Ph., project manager of the UPMC drug sample initiative. “We expect a growing number of pharmaceutical companies to participate in this innovative model so that together we can provide patients with the most appropriate care.”  

A drug sample steering committee at UPMC chose the MedManage system after considering numerous alternatives and drawing upon the expertise of physicians, pharmacists, clinical staff and pharmaceutical industry representatives. The steering committee concluded that MedManage offered the optimal suite of technology and services to best serve the needs of UPMC’s patients, physicians and the pharmaceutical industry.

“We are delighted that UPMC has selected MedManage to enable its eSample Center,” said Thomas P. Quinn, R.Ph., senior vice president at MedManage Systems Inc. “We look forward to working closely with UPMC to create and refine a solution that will set new standards of excellence for the health care industry.”

UPMC and the affiliated University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences are ranked among the top institutions nationally for best conflict-of-interest policies by the American Medical Student Association. They are in a group of only eight institutions out of 150 surveyed to receive an “A” grade, according to the association’s scorecard, which included an evaluation of drug sample policies. For more information about the policy, please visit http://www.coi.pitt.edu/IndustryRelationships/index.htm.

About UPMC

UPMC is an integrated global health enterprise headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and one of the leading nonprofit health systems in the United States. As western Pennsylvania’s largest employer, with 48,000 employees and nearly $7 billion in revenue, UPMC is transforming the economy of the region into one based on medicine, research and technology. By integrating 20 hospitals, 400 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, long-term care facilities, and a major insurance plan, UPMC has advanced the quality and efficiency of health care and developed internationally renowned programs in transplantation, cancer, neurosurgery, psychiatry, orthopaedics and sports medicine, among others. UPMC is commercializing its medical and technological expertise by nurturing new companies, developing strategic business relationships with some of the world’s leading multinational corporations, and expanding into international markets, including Italy, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Qatar. For more information about UPMC, visit our Web site at www.upmc.com.

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