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Drug Makers Push Anthrax Awareness

Drug makers are arming their sales representatives with a brochure that describes anthrax in an attempt to help doctors and other health workers better identify and treat it.

The pilot program being launched Thursday will distribute 20,000 of the guides in 13 cities: Albany, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Washington, Hartford, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tampa.

Physicians already had access to such information from a variety of government sources. For example, the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes anthrax and other potential bioterrorism agents.

Also, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality set up a Web site in January to train some 300,000 first-line doctors -- such as primary care physicians, internists and pediatricians to diagnose and treat those agents. That site provides free online education courses that earn doctors continuing-education credit, something important to meet licensing requirements.

The brochures will be dispensed by representatives of Bayer Corp., GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly & Co., and Pharmacia Corp., which also have set up a Web site.

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