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Genentech opens mobile app playbook for tablet fans

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Genentech, the venerable biotech unit of Roche ($RHHBY), has been cranking out new mobile apps to stay ahead in the biopharma world. And company insiders spoke last week at the Tablet Strategy West conference in San Francisco about how the biotech develops and uses those apps on devices such as the iPad and iPhone, TabTimes reported.

At Genentech, based in South San Francisco, mobile apps have become key tools to support and measure productivity and bolster efforts to market drugs. The company is among many outfits in pharma searching for new ways to engage docs in the maturing Digital Age, with soaring expectations for technology inside and outside of people's work lives. And mobile apps provide accessible and consumable aids.

As TabTimes reported, Genentech houses more than 60 mobile apps in the company's internal app store and supports more than 14,000 iPads and iPhones for employees. (One former Genentech employee, ex-CEO Art Levinson, now banks on big sales of those devices as chairman of Apple.) Among those apps are several that Genentech developed to bolster marketing efforts for specific brands such as the breast cancer drug Herceptin.

Since cancer docs only prescribe the drug for patients with HER2-positive breast tumors, Genentech designed the Herceptin-focused app to show the benefits of one of two biopsy methods that can lead to a diagnosis for this type of breast cancer.

"We had a hard time telling the story on paper--and physicians think they know the space," said Ben Lei, director of digital marketing at Genentech, as quoted by TabTimes. "We have had physicians that would not have this conversation with a sales rep, but having something cool to play with that's interactive, they go back to the pathologist and say they prefer the more accurate test."

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