Wheels Out Nearly Half Its Staff

SAN FRANCISCO (07/17/2000) - Internet health-information company Inc. (MCNS) has laid off almost half of its staff and put its consumer medical sites up for sale, succumbing to a dearth of advertising that has afflicted other online health companies.

"The advertising model is one that just isn't producing the kind of revenue we need," says Mediconsult spokesman Tom Peacock. The firm laid off 100 workers.

In 1999, Mediconsult acquired Physicians' Online, which is supported by corporate sponsorships and also earns revenue through e-commerce transactions.

Mediconsult will now concentrate on its services to doctors, their patients and the pharmaceutical industry.

"Our belief, based on our experience this year, is that we can create a sustainable business this way," Peacock said.

The cutbacks at Mediconsult will save the company $1 million a month while it refocuses its business.

While the market shakeout has affected the entire online health care business, advertising-dependent medical information sites have been particularly hard hit. For example, is running out of cash and has seen its stock price tumble to $1.60. Mediconsult's stock price also has been languishing; it closed at $1.31 on Thursday.

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