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Digital Pharma: Pfizer expands online clinic and aims for viral hit

pharmafile | November 29, 2010 | News story | Medical Communications Digital Pharma blog, ManMOT, Pfizer, patient information 

Pfizer’s digital initiative targeting men who are reluctant to visit a GP is to be extended until May next year after a four-month trial.

Launched in July, the Man MOT website offers online surgeries on Monday evenings in which men can chat anonymously to GPs about health issues – and be referred to their own GPs if necessary.

Man MOT has had over 14,296 visits, 5,236 of which have been during its virtual clinic opening hours and Pfizer says 14.4% of these visits have led to online consultations with Man MOT GPs.

The campaign is funded by Pfizer, whose products include the blockbuster erectile dysfunction Viagra, cholesterol drug Lipitor and a range of smoking cessation products.

The initiative also has support from patient groups including Diabetes UK, Relate, the National Obesity Forum and Heart UK and has its extended run has won backing from NHS Choices and NHS Direct, who will support Man MOT for the next six months.

Pfizer aims for viral hit with ‘Ministry of Manly Behaviour’

To raise awareness of the Man MOT site Pfizer has today launched a new video campaign based around a ‘Ministry of Manly Behaviour’, which it hopes will be a viral hit.

The ‘Wilbert’ campaign draws inspiration from Mr Cholmondley-Warner, a UK television character that parodied black-and-white public information films.

It aims to call time on the pejorative expression ‘man flu’, which it says is used to ridicule men when they are sick and may be stopping them from seeking help for legitimate conditions.

The manufacturer has also released a survey which suggests that unsympathetic reactions to male illness could be having a negative impact on men’s health.

Many men chose not to visit their doctor when they experienced persistent thirst (80%), frequent urination (77%)  and erectile dysfunction (75%).

Such symptoms could be the early warning signs of heart problems, prostate cancer and diabetes.

“As we expected, the confidential nature of the service has proven particularly popular with men looking to address what they consider to be embarrassing or sexual health problems,” says Dr Berkeley Phillips, medical director at Pfizer.

Only 55% of men visit their GP once or more a year compared with 72% of women – and 53% of men worry about wasting their doctor’s time, the survey suggests.
“Unfortunately it’s become acceptable for men to be labelled with ‘man flu’ when they’re feeling unwell,” says Peter Baker from the Men’s Health Forum.

“However, the reality is not that men complain too much but that too many continue to suffer in silence and avoid their GP, which in some cases can lead to potentially serious medical conditions going undetected,” he adds.

Pfizer’s online surgeries will continue to run from 6–10pm on Monday evenings until May 16 2011.

Dominic Tyer is web editor for Pharmafocus and and the author of the Digital Pharma blog He can be contacted via email, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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