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Streamlining Medical Affairs Workflows


For our Life Science customers, we hope that you’ll join us for one of our Streamlining Medical Affairs Workflows webinars on May 28, where we will be co-presenting with QUOSA representatives from Elsevier. 


At Reprints Desk, it is our goal to present customers like you with information about literature-related workflow and integration options so that you can make informed decisions about what is best for you, your company and your end users. 

In this spirit and in response to an increasing number of requests from Life Science customers like you, we have scheduled these webinars to highlight how QUOSA and Reprints Desk’s Article Galaxy system can be used together to efficiently acquire, manage and share relevant literature for Medical Liaisons, Medical Communications, and other groups within Medical Affairs.


Our webinars will explore how you and your end users can:

  • Quickly respond to inquiries from HCPs and KTLs/KOLs
  • Enable mobile access to content
  • Easily order & distribute documents to KOLs
  • Track spending to comply with Sunshine Act regulation
  • Save money by preventing duplicate article orders
  • Optimize spending through the use of lowest cost acquisition filters

We hope you will register today and also share this invitation with your colleagues from the Information Center and Medical Affairs.

The Document Delivery Town Hall Experiment


townhallIf you read our most recent blog post 'Two million document delivery orders...and counting' or spent any time speaking with me or my colleagues here at Reprints Desk, you've probably figured out that adoption of our Article Galaxy platform for document delivery has grown dramatically since our inception just seven years ago.

Our growth has been largely attributable to direct customer references as well industry reports such as the 2008 and 2012 Document Delivery Vendor Scorecard Reports from analyst and advisory firm Outsell, Inc.

Historically, our own primary research showed that references were driven by customer satisfaction, which were in turn driven by strong performance in document delivey fundamentals and quality customer support since docdel is such a "high touch" business. Our recent research indicates that our technology capabilities (for example, see our article-level Open Access Filter) and customer communications focus are now equally strong drivers of loyalty for us. 

So late last year, we asked ourselves "What else can we do to improve how we communicate with our growing customer base and keep them informed about all of the existing capabilities and also looming ones such as article rentals and instant PDF display?"  

We've always met regularly with customers to initiate account tune ups and also produced news releases to share our latest developments. We supplemented these tactics by providing administrators with a snapshot of active/inactive account features within the admin user interface, enabling acccess to customer support tickets with a client administrator's account, and by publishing Article Galaxy release notes.

However, we knew we could do more.

So on October 9 last year, we at Reprints Desk decided to experiment with another method for effectively communicating with our customers: we launched our first ever town halls for our corporate and academic customers.  And we followed this up with another day full of town halls just last week.

According to Wikipedia, "A town hall meeting is an American term given to an informal public meeting, function, or event derived from the traditional town meetings of New England. Typically open to everybody in a town community and held at the local municipal building, attendees generally may voice their opinions and ask questions of the public figures, elected officials, or political candidates at the town hall."  

The document delivery town hall idea came to us after reading a marketing case study about how the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) used a town hall-like format to connect their staff and talent with fans in an open Q&A session.  

Why not for Article Galaxy and document delivery, we wondered.  

After holding two days of document delivery town halls in 6 months, the reasons WHY to do document delivery town halls are crystal clear. Here's what our customers shared with us via a survey following our March 5 town halls:

document delivery event

And here's what customers share about the frequency that they prefer from the two town hall series in October and March:

document delivery town hall

Based on this feedback, we definitely feel that our document delivery town hall concept has been a mini-success and is a model for other information industry vendors.  So we'll continue to take our cues from customers like you and to work towards perfecting the timing, format and content. As always, we thank you for your collaboration and also encourage you to continue sharing ideas about how we can improve our new town halls or communication in general.

We thought we'd conclude this post within The Article Blog with a few of the (unedited) excerpts from the most recent town hall survey comments.

(Note: for customers that missed the event contact community[at] for a transcript of the Q&A and video recording)


  • Only some of the upcoming features are applicable to us, but I appreciated hearing about all of them, because they are evidence of RD's creativity and dedication.
  • It's nice to hear about the new enhancements coming.
  • Good to hear about changes and future changes.
  • I wasn't aware of some of the current features / options in Article Galaxy and am happy to learn about the forthcoming enhancements.
  • Update on new and upcoming features (may prevent me from having to questions) - news on workflows - some info of what over customers need, good for my own thinking - interactive questions with answers
  • I haven't used the administrator site to it's full yet, just for running reports and checking on orders etc. It was useful to understand the range of functions available, and what you can do to help.
  • Our library has not used reprints desk yet. we are still evaluating our workflows and policies to figure out the best way to incorporate a document delivery service.
  • I appreciated an opportunity to see the workflows as you see and provide feedback on how that workflow could be improved for those of us in resource sharing. I also liked getting the update to newly released features like the addon, and what will be looked at for future enhancements.
  • I am a new customer and will be transferring more of my business to Reprints Desk. Learning about the UI upgrades and expanded features helps me build better connections to my workflows as I go forward with the transition.
  • You answered a lot of the questions that we don't have the time to go out and research ourselves due to having so much work going on.
  • If I understand it correctly, there is an add-on that we can use to order directly from you when we need to go to a doc-supplier? Please let me if I am correct and if so how/where I can obtain add-on.
  • We aren't using all of the extended services yet so much of the content didn't apply to us but was interesting.
  • A lot of information shared, opportunity to ask questions
  • It is good to get an overview of what is new/planned.
  • I think these are great! It's also very refreshing to actually hear about the improvements in the works and then to see them come to fruition. Thanks!
  • Nice to hear about new products and features and also to hear different questions on what other customers might have
  • It is very good, I profit from everybodies questions. I like it to receive information at the same time like everybody else and to have a chance to place questions immediately and get answers. At the moment you implement great changes, quarterly is perfect. Maybe consider in 2015 move to bi-Annually?
  • Sorry that I had to exit early for another meeting. But from what I have seen, I think the town hall is a great idea.
  • You answered specific questions, were honest and willing to work through issues. Offered to follow up.
  • I thought having various functional representatives on the call was a great approach.

Two million document delivery orders...and counting!


On February 11th, I had the great pleasure of announcing that our Article Galaxy document delivery system had delivered it’s 2,000,000th article! 

describe the imageSo first and foremost, I would like to say a very warm-hearted “thank you” to you and your customers for trusting us as a key electronic content provider to you.  Without you, we simply wouldn’t exist.  A second “thank you” goes to our team, a tremendously dedicated team of people that are truly the best in the business.  This team consistently goes beyond the call of duty to provide the highest level of service to our customers, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  And thirdly, I’d like to thank our suppliers, those STM publishers that trust us as a third-party of high integrity.

We had a good time at our offices trying to predict when Order #2,000,000 would hit.  There were a lot of emails and posts with all sorts of bets and predictions.  No one was wagering money, but there were quite a few promises of tacos for the winner.  In the end, we all celebrated when that order hit and were full of delight.

We are always striving to figure out ways to keep our customers happy and based on the feedback and statistics we receive each day, we feel that we’re doing a good job. 

Statistically, you might be interested to know that it took Reprints Desk less than half the time to reach the two million mark than it did the one million mark!  And that rate is accelerating, as are our response times.  

I also point to the fact that in January alone, we were honored to sign up more than 50 new accounts across three continents, which is also double the rate of account sign-ups than last year at this time, and in a wider geography.  Best of all, most new customers are coming to us as referrals from other customers.  That’s the way we like it. 

Now, I’ll also be the first to acknowledge that we’re not perfect, We’re human and we do mistakes.  But we strive to be the best in the business, acknowledge any missteps and always go to great effort to improve how we do things and to ensure mistakes are not repeated.

We are continuing to invest in improvements to our Article Galaxy system and will be releasing major improvements throughout 2014. 

This quarter will see a major release of our system that will improve our speed, efficiency and reporting, as well as credit card purchasing.  Additionally, this quarter’s release contains some foundational infrastructure improvements that will set the stage for important upgrades to Article Galaxy that our customers have been asking for. 

There’s a lot of work that goes into this, but in the end, it’s all about our customers because we make money by making customers happy.  I mentioned that in my previous post about our Open Access Filter, and reiterate it here.

It motivates us each day, when our customers send us notes saying “thank you” to us.  We get these notes quite often, and I take pride in reading them.  So as Reprints Desk's founder and CEO, I thought I’d also take the time to say “thank you” and remind you that this relationship we have with you is definitely symbiotic. ;)

Why launch a document delivery-enabled “Open Access” tool?


document delivery OAI’ve been asked:  “Doesn’t Reprints Desk sell articles? Why in the world would you launch a tool to help people find free articles?” The answer to that question is easy: Because it makes damn good sense, that’s why. 

Let me explain….

First of all, at Reprints Desk we don’t make money by selling articles, systems or software. We make money by making customers happy. That’s first and foremost, and maybe the only thing we think about all the time at Reprints Desk:  “How can we make customers happy?”  When our customers tell us they’re happy, we become happy.  It’s a symbiotic relationship.  The “making money” part comes from having customers in the first place, right?  OK, so we have the basic premise of our business established.

Secondly, what can we do to bring more happiness and satisfaction to our customers?  What can we do that no one else is doing or has thought of?  What have we built already that we can improve upon? 

Well, we did a survey of a customer group and found that one of the activities that commonly occurs is that our customers will spend valuable time hunting around on the Internet for “free stuff” before going to a paid service.  It’s human nature, even professional human nature.  However, it’s also time consuming and creates a barrier to more efficient content workflows.   

Think about it: if someone gave you a list of 50 free articles to pull off the Internet, how long would it take you to actually do the gathering of these “free” documents?  At least fifty Google searches, two to 500 hundred “drill-down” clicks, plus the saving and organizing of the articles.  It’s an all day process.  If you spent a half-day or full-day doing this (depending on what “real” work you have pending), these fifty “free” articles don’t seem to be so “free” anymore. And you’ve got to figure out what CC-BY-NC means, or whatever terms of use are associated with that article.

Now, keep in mind that in the real world, only a small percentage of the articles any of our customers need are Open Access, so a lot of time is wasted “checking just in case it’s Open Access.”  We dared to imagine something mundane: Let's help our customers save a lot of time and money as well as create more efficient workflows by integrating Open Access into our platform. 

If each one of our customers tells two friends, then we’ve just turned customer happiness into more customers and more customer happiness, and they tell two friends….and the virtuous cycle continues. That’s how Reprints Desk was built, it’s in our DNA:

We dedicate our efforts to making customers happy, because without them, we don’t exist.  And you know what?  We like existing!

Third point, we have put a lot of hard work into building an awesome Document Delivery platform for our customers.  Our customers helped us build it.  I think it’s the best one in the world, definitely the best one I’ve ever collaborated on.  I’m proud of it, the old-fashioned way, in the same way my father took pride in his work at the machine shop at the old Bell & Howell in Pasadena when he knew a piece of metal he was milling would get put onto an Apollo mission. 

A lot of our customers think we’ve done a good job as well (see The Article Blog post “Love Thy Customer”). Additionally, we’ve made substantial improvements lately, including in our ability to get more “granular” in our platform and system workflows than we ever imagined.  We’ll be announcing some news about these developments in short order.

So, what does Open Access Filter do?  For our customers that have it activated, we will run every article request through the Open Access Filter and our platform will determine if that particular article is available via Open Access today.  Why “today?”   Well, if you follow Open Access developments, you’ve probably realized that in addition to traditional Open Access journals, there are also Hybrid Open Access journals where only certain articles are available on an Open Access basis.  There are also embargo periods, which means that the article you want might not have been Open Access yesterday, but it is today.   So, it’s not as simple as knowing which journals or ISSN’s are entirely Open Access.  It really is a matter of knowing exactly which articles are Open Access today!  How’s that for a “Car Talk” puzzler?

Our Open Access Filter will help our customers save time and money, by integrating Open Access directly into their content workflows.   If you are a Reprints Desk customer, and think Open Access can help you save money, then I urge you to learn a little more about it.  Give me or someone else here a call. I led the project and love talking about it.  If you’re not a Reprints Desk customer, and think Open Access can help you save money, then join us!  Now’s a good time join our “love thy customer” movement.

Our greatest hope is to yet again, help our customers save time & money, as well as make their Content Workflows more efficient.  We think this makes sense, and if you do to, then please check it out, and please tell two friends….

Goodbye Google Reader. Hello Bibliogo.


In case you missed the news last week (Google Reader Blog: Powering Down Google Reader), the scientific world is scrambling to find an alternative RSS reader rather than return to the days of overloaded email inboxes bombarded by journal table of contents (TOCs) and saved search alerts from PubMed and other sources.

While there are a number of generic RSS readers that many Google Reader™ feed reader  users are migrating to, those in specialized fields (eg scientists, engineers, etc.) may want to use this opportunity to seek out specialized RSS readers such as Bibliogo, the free RSS reader for science and technology from Reprints Desk.

(This brief video tutorial walks you through how to import RSS feeds into Bibliogo from Reprints Desk. The file to import is entitled 'subscriptions.xml')

Bibliogo features a simple user interface with powerful tools for users including: 

  • Easy importing of existing feeds from Google Reader™ feed reader & directly from the native PubMed interface
  • Tools for aggregating, monitoring, and curating journal article feeds from table of contents (TOCs), search tools like PubMed, blogs and any online resource with an RSS or Atom feed.
  • A directory of more than 14,000 journal titles for rapid importing of TOC alert feeds
  • Time-saving multi-task features
  • And much more

Here's one blog post from the Science 2.0 website that we were alerted to, which summed up part of the value proposition for Bibliogo, which is a mash-up of an RSS Reader, a reference management system, paper acquisition services and more:
How About Adding a RSS Reader in Reference Management Software? 

There are undoubtedly other specialized RSS readers, so whatever alternative you seek or pursue, we wish you luck in your search and encourage you to contact us here at Reprints Desk if there is any way we can help.


Google Reader™ is a trademark of Google Inc.

Mobile document delivery: helpful or hype?


mobile document delivery libraryAs a global document delivery and medical reprints supplier, we’ve heard a lot of buzz about mobile apps for the library world.  While some organizations are pushing mobile to the limit, we at Reprints Desk believe that much of the industry buzz seems to be supplier driven at this juncture.

Do YOU, scientists or engineers, and others really want to order and read scientific, technical and medical papers anywhere at any time?  Is this something you really wonder about or receive questions about on a frequent basis?

Our experience and the “real world” primary research that we’ve conducted certainly hasn’t supported that.  Just a few of the most readily available pieces of supporting evidence for this assessment include:

  • Renew Training’s 2012 report ‘Readers Discover Content in Scholarly Journals’ reported a nearly 4:1 difference in respondents’ use of a desktop or laptop computer compared to a tablet computer or phone. Related findings included the fact that less than 10% of respondents use smartphone apps to view latest journal issues, search journal content, read content offline, or browse journal articles.
  • A FreePint 2011 presentation ‘The Enterprise Opportunity for Mobile Content’ highlighted their surprise findings on mobility in the workflow through a research respondent quote that stated “Generally our mobile workers don’t want to do their own searches. They want to send the request to a deskbound researcher and have the specific results emailed to them.”
  • Reprints Desk’s own 2012 posting on The Scientific Journal Club group on LinkedIn for which respondents tallied a 0% preference for mobile phones as a preferred reading device for scientific papers and only a 9% preference for a tablet computer. This was compared to the 59% preference for good old fashioned paper copies and 30% for desktop or laptop computers, which we learned was driven by the ability to search PDFs for critical information.
scientific journal club
  • Primary research in the form of focus groups that Reprints Desk sponsored in 2011 as part of its new product validation process for our award-winning ‘all in one’ literature management tool Bibliogo. The exchange with one research scientist from the Massachusetts area provided what is perhaps the most unambiguous sentiment when he was asked about mobile access to articles and citations: “…what am I going to do if it's 11 o'clock at night and a paper is published that I'm interested in. It's one of those things that probably sounds cool in theory, but I'd never use it.”

Not sold on the lack of demand or just want to better understand your users’ mobile document delivery needs and preferences? Feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to help. 

So let’s suppose significant user demand for mobile document delivery actually did exist.  Do you really need an app for that?

We believe the answer to this semi-rhetorical question is “it depends.”  There are really two main user experience scenarios to consider: the ordering process and the method of accessing the full-text.

Let’s look at the ordering process first.

Assume a supplier like Reprints Desk actually built a mobile document delivery app for Apple’s App Store and that we were lucky enough to get past the ‘in app transactions’ review that requires content distributors to pay a portion of every transaction initiated via the app (-- luck in this case may be relative since it would be painful to go back to users afterwards to explain functionality or pricing changes!). Do you think your end users who are on a “sit back” mobile device actually want to go through the process of typing a citation in or navigating through an app user interface (UI) in order to order a full-text scholarly paper?

At Reprints Desk we strongly subscribe to the 'less is more' philosophy in many aspects pertaining to user experience. If you’ve ever read the book ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ or bought an iPhone, an iPad, or any other Apple product, you can probably relate to the fact that value can be created through the process of elimination rather than creating new features or reducing or raising existing standards. 

How might process elimination work for mobile document delivery work, you ask?  Let's look at an example with the Apple iPhone.

To get started, a user can take a photo or screenshot of any article titles or bibliographies from their mobile device. This will work both for bibliographies on their computer screen and printed journals.

To take a screenshot on the Apple iPhone, a user simply needs to use their camera or press both the home and power button at the same to save a screenshot to the Camera Roll album. The user can then navigate back to the photo in their photo album, select the menu bar and click ‘Email Photo.’  Type as the email recipient if this email address is not already listed as a contact in their addresss book, then click send and they're done. 

The email will be sent the next time the user has Internet access and Reprints Desk will get to work on their order immediately, first checking subscriptions and other content assets the user's organization may have before processing the document delivery request. 

mobile document delivery library resized 600









This process takes less than a minute and your users will probably find that it comes with a lot less aggravation than having to navigate through an app just to place one or more document delivery article requests so they can get back to other pressing matters.

Time is money for scientists, engineers, information pros, and others, so this is also certain to help your organization save. And as you'll see in Outsell's 2012 Document Delivery Best Practices and Vendor Scorecard Update, Reprints Desk will do the data entry at no additional cost for orders sent by email.

What about post-purchase mobile content access and collaboration?

If all you want to do is store and read PDFs on an iPad, iBooks is already pre-installed and what millions of professionals already use to save PDFs today for future viewing - and it’s absolutely free.  But there are many additional mobile document delivery options that exist for you and your library.

We'll take a look at one or more of these solutions in one of our future blog posts and explore the user experience, copyright considerations and more, so be sure to subscribe to The Article Blog so you’re alerted when this post is ready. 

As a homework assignment so you have a full frame of reference when we publish our follow up blog post, you’ll probably first want to check with internal departments (eg legal, IT, etc.) to understand whether or not this type of mobile access solution sufficiently meets internal copyright compliance policies and cloud computing security requirements.

Have a different experience or opinion?

We always encourage productive discourse here at Reprints Desk. So if you’ve had a different experience at your organization or have a different opinion on this topic then feel free to further this conversation by sharing your thoughts as a reply to this post.

Love Thy Customer.


document delivery vendors

Strange things happen when you truly love your customers:  they love you back and recommend you to more loving folk.  That’s the conclusion I came to when I read the recent study by Outsell: “Document Delivery: Best Practices and Vendor Scorecard – 2012 Update.”   

A copy of it is available online (no registration required) at:

For this study, Outsell surveyed 156 Information Professionals from a variety of   organizations regarding their document delivery usage and vendor performance. The results are tabulated on pages 24 and 25 of the report, with the main categories being: 

  • Depth and Breadth of Coverage
  • Fair Pricing
  • Ease of Doing Business
  • Overall Satisfaction
  • Loyalty (ie, would you recommend?)

Reprints Desk, hands down, achieved the highest score in each of the categories measured.  I was in tears when I read the full report. Not because I knew we have the finest people, the strongest technology, and best service out there.  No. I cried because I saw that the love we at Reprints Desk give to our customers came right back to us, via Outsell, painted on a canvas in the form of scores and numbers. And this was one beautiful painting to behold,  just five short years after the Reprints Desk baby was born.

I’ve personally witnessed our team, over and over, go the extra mile for our customers not only because it was the right thing to do, but because we enjoyed doing it. And we’ve received hundreds of notes from customers taking precious time from their busy day to say “thank you” to us, and these special notes get circulated internally and just add more fuel to our fire, because yes, we are passionate about Document Delivery, and proud of that fact (as strange and corny as that may sound).

So, a big thank yo­­u to those customers who spoke with their ratings.  We are proud and privileged to serve you, and yes, we do love you more than ever.  However, it is also important to note that we are NOT perfect and we do receive complaints as well as suggestions for improvements.  Our desire is to continuously improve based on our known flaws as well as any issues our customers may bring up. That’s our duty to you and it is our commitment.

I would like to acknowledge Outsell, specifically Kurt Brenneman, who did a coherent, intelligent and comprehensive survey of the industry.  A lot more than most people know goes into Document Delivery and the Outsell study covers many of the main issues as well as points the way to the future of this mission critical service.

10 Ways to Make Article Galaxy Your Own


With new functionality that we've just released in Article Galaxy, our system for streamlined literature access, customers like you can now customize the buttons that show on the dashboard user interface (UI).

custom literature dashboard

So whether your end user colleagues are researchers, medical affairs professionals, engineers or brand managers, you can now surface the resources that matter most to them - and within their workflow!

Here are 10 sample dashboard button ideas for how you can put this new functionality to work:

  1. A-Z list
  2. Copyright FAQs
  3. Current awareness tools (like Bibliogo)
  4. Free resources
  5. Internal library staff
  6. Publisher websites or journals
  7. Reference & document management systems (like Bibliogo)
  8. Reprint services - internal or external
  9. Search tools
  10. User surveys

Have additional ideas for this list?
We'd love to hear them! Simply post a comment below. 

Want to have custom buttons added for your account?
Contact us today at and let us know what you'd like to see.

Social Media in Pharma Explained at PIPA 2012


social media pharmaKinga Papp of MediaCom started her Pharmaceutical Information & Pharmacovigilance Association (PIPA) 2012 session by asking the audience how many were using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. As expected, almost everyone confirmed that they are, to some extent, part of the social networking revolution. Reality is that word of mouth has gone digital, and therefore social media cannot be ignored. People will talk about medicines whether the pharma companies that produce them participate in the discussions or not.

Particularly when it comes to health, the general public is very interested in using online media to connect and get the information they need. Health is, in fact, the most popular topic online. This is evidenced by the 59 mill Google blog results for “medicine” and more than 15,000 health and wellness related iPhone apps available. But it is not just the general public who likes to use online platforms and social media to talk about health. Medical professionals are extremely active in social media and new technology. More than 50% of survey respondents use tablets. Given these patient and Health Care Professional behaviours, the right use of social media provides great business insight, and ability to engage with people talking about medicines.

Social media now rivals television in terms of reach, which is yet another reason for pharma companies to pay particular attention to this relatively new way of interacting with customers.

So how should pharma companies go about developing and implementing a social media project?

Here are some of the recommendations Kinga provided:

  • Ensure that the objective of the project is to help patients. If this is the objective, regulations will not stop pharma companies from embracing social media.

  • Social media is about the people, what they want and what benefits them. Be on the target group’s agenda and communicate without intruding.

  • Plan social media projects using the SMART approach (Strategic, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Targeted).

  • A project owner needs to be dedicated to the initiative.

  • Marketing, Regulatory, Legal, and Pharmacovigilance need to cooperate for the project to be effective.

  • To avoid comments made on social network platforms having legal implications, software based and manual moderation need to be in place.

Kinga mentioned Eli Lilly as a company that has successfully used social media. The company used social media to target exactly the people they wanted to reach to recruit for their US trials. This resulted in a 10 – 20% saving in their recruitment costs.

Another example is Pfizer Israel, who has developed an app that can locate nearest public toilet for people with overactive bladder. These people are normally very nervous about leaving their homes. The success of the app is evidenced by its +50,000 downloads to date!

At the end of Kinga’s talk there were a few questions from the audience. One question was around the involvement of Medical Information in social media projects. Kinga responded that connecting a brand with something useful and being where the audience wants to be are key aspects. Medical Information is connected to what people want to talk about, so needs to work closely with Brand Managers who may not have this awareness.

“How do we know social media is not just a fad?”, was another question. The response was that current versions of social networks may not be available in future, but other means of people connecting in the same way will be available.

Someone in the audience remarked that in terms of reporting adverse effects social media can create noise and drown out real concerns. Kinga’s response was that a report through the social media route would, in effect, be no different than somebody calling about an adverse effect.

Armand Brevig of Reprints Desk (Reprints Desk offers a solution which allows display of scientific articles on iPads in a seamless and copyright compliant way) asked about the cost effectiveness of social media vs. traditional media. Kinga responded that Social media tends to be 40% more effective in terms of value for money than traditional channels. She encouraged the audience to look at social media as another tool in the box and not as a replacement for other channels.

Signal Management at PIPA 2012


Pharmacovigilance PIPA Software resized 600

At the recent Pharmaceutical Information & Pharmacovigilance Association (PIPA) annual conference, pharmacovigilance professionals had the opportunity to exchange best practices and learn from each other at a round table session where cases of three very different pharma companies were presented. Cases from a big pharma, a small pharma, and a generics pharma company served as a broad foundation for engaging and insightful discussions around approaches to signal management, i.e. early detection of adverse drug reactions.

It was reassuring to note that there are many similarities across the three companies in the way signal management is approached. All companies rely on tracking systems built in e.g. Excel, and all have well defined processes in place, including at what points literature searches are performed.

However, one difference that stands out in the approach of the big pharma company is that the signal management process is handled by different parts of the organisation, e.g. the UK team does signal DETECTION only - and only for certain products. These are UK specific products and global products where there are issues. Another difference is that, unlike the generic and small pharma, the pharmacovigilance professionals in the big pharma company do work closely with Regulatory Affairs and the Medical Information department around signal management.

The generic drug manufacturer at the session is under regulatory obligation to have signal management in place for approx. a third of their products. Given that generic drug manufacturers make less profit than big pharma, the comprehensiveness of the signal management processes needs to be carefully balanced against costs.

Since signal management requirements vary across the world the generic manufacturer manages the process locally in order to avoid doing unnecessary work. Some countries have no requirements for signal management, whereas in Europe all documentation needs to be recorded. In the US selected documents need to be recorded, as recording “too much” could increase the risk of litigation.

Representative from the generic pharma company felt that their signal management process could be improved through automation, e.g. part of their tracking spread sheet could be auto-populated from databases, and scheduling of key activities could be automated.

The small pharma company have a simple fit-for-purpose process in place which included literature searches at different stages.  


To learn how some companies are boosting signal detection at their companies, check out Bibliogo ( - voted Best Online Science or Technology Service in the 2012 Software & Information Industry CODiE Awards.

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