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Partnering for new business

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Steve Morris, exec VP of Advanstar's Life Sciences unit since June 2005, is responsible for the company's health care, pharmaceutical and science groups. Morris joined Advanstar in January 2003 as VP-market development.

MB: Many health care media titles are suffering from a big drop in new drug approvals since 2004. How have you grown business with pharmaceutical customers?

Morris: You have to be willing to look beyond your traditional business model. As one example, we partnered with two other companies in the co-development of a brand-new product called Formulary Alerts. It's a very precise targeting tool that uses e-mail to advise doctors about formulary changes, and pharmaceutical companies love it.

MB: Who are your co-developers and how does this work?

Morris: Formularies are lists of preferred drugs covered by third parties or insurers. As you probably know from your own insurance, you as a patient have a lesser co-pay for a preferred brand.

Formulary Alerts are e-mails that go directly to prescribers from us. We work with a company called Fingertip Formulary, which alerts us when a brand-name drug goes from Tier 3, a higher co-pay for patients, to Tier 2, which is a lower co-pay. Our second partner, Direct Medical Data, provides us with up-to-date, CAN/SPAM-compliant lists of e-mail addresses that correspond to the diagnosis code for the brand's classification.

Because these e-mails are so well-targeted, they have a very high open rate. Pharmaceutical companies sponsor them because they are such an efficient way to let doctors know about prescribing drugs that will cost their patients less. And, we're doing business in an area we've never done before.

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