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Doctors Shutting Doors On Drug Sales Reps

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, April 17, 2009 3:18 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Pharmaceutical Sales, Drug Companies, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Pfizer, Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Merck

Doctors are denying drug reps increasingly because of time constraints and bad PR.



IMAGE SOUCE: ©iStockphoto/ Doctor with arms crossed/ author: Twohumans 


Drug Sales Reps Increasingly Denied Access

New figures are that access to doctors by sales reps are down 13 percent.  

That according to a report from ZS Associates, a sales and marketing consulting firm, which put together findings released today.  

The rejection costs pharmaceutical companies about $2 billion a year in expenses and salaries.   It’s all part of a backlash against pharmaceutical marketing and sales.

The report called AccessMonitor, says that about 23 percent of doctors are “medium access” meaning they will see representatives, yet they are still difficult to see about half of the time.   Six percent of doctors fall into the “low access” category, meaning they will not see any reps from any company.

Pushing Pills

Doctors get much of their information about a new drug or device from sales representatives and for a long while drug makers were sending an increasing number of reps into the field to push the benefit of products. 

Estimates are that today about 90,000 drug reps work for pharmaceutical giants. 

Sales and marketing is a huge part of a company’s budget. A study released last year estimates that U.S. pharmaceutical companies spend twice as much marketing drugs as they spend in the research and development of new drugs.

The research, out of York University in Toronto, Ontario January 2008  is titled "The Cost of Pushing Pills: A New Estimate of Pharmaceutical Promotion Expenditures in the United States." 

Researchers found that while drug makers spend 24.4 percent on sales or promotion, 13.4 percent goes to research and development (R & D). 

U.S. drug sales are estimated at $235.4 billion annually.

That translates to $57.5 billion spent on total promotion by pharmaceutical companies in 2004 or about $61,000 per physician in promotion that year.

Patients Asking More Questions

Patients however are becoming more concerned about industry influence over doctors and are asking more questions.  And as a result of patient pressure and the time constraints of doctors, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer have both reportedly reduced the number of their sales reps. 

ZS looked at the call plans and reports from about 35,000 sales reps as the basis of its report. It concludes the industry could be more productive if it reduced the ranks to about 75,000.  #


Anonymous User
Posted by Suzanne McClain
Saturday, April 18, 2009 1:21 AM EST

It's about time some of these doctors woke up! Pharmaceutical Reps are nothing more than legalized drug pushers, and because the medicine and devices they push are taxed, our government condones their very existence.

We're getting them out of the doctor's offices, now lets get them out of our operating rooms!

How many of you knew that they are actually allowed to be there?

Anonymous User
Posted by former rep
Saturday, April 18, 2009 11:35 PM EST

Those of you who are against reps in doctor's offices and operating rooms need to really think about why you are so heated up.

First of all, I am not advocating unethical behaviors. Good reps actually provide value to doctors and patients.

I can tell with 100% certainty that without reps educating the doctors on new products that there would be a lot more adverse effects than we see now.

I know from experience that there are MANY people who work in the hospital setting that are provided bonuses for keeping product costs down. This creates a very bad scenario for the patients.

These hospital personell are willing to protect their bonuses soo much that they don't think twice about using an inferior product, even though they knoew there are better options available.

Good reps bring valuable information on safety and innovation. Doctors are too busy to educate themselves fully on new products etc.

I have spoken to many hospital personnell whom have admitted that if they were to go under the knife in the OR, it wouldn't be in the hospital they work in.

What does that tell you. It is not the reps. Granted, there are some reps who are bad seeds, but most are there for the right reasons.

Being in the O.R. is essential for some products and education. Think about it... Would you want the surgeon placing a new product inside of you without proper instruction?

Trust me when I say that the reps, in 95% of all scenarios know much more about the products and devices that they sell and the competitor's, than the physicians themselves.

Truthful doctor's will admit this.

On top of this, most doctor’s feel insulted that people think a doctor cannot make an educated decision on his/her own. And since most doctors have no time to learn about new products, they need the reps to help.

I would speak to a much bigger problem like: Nurse errors and other things that go on on the hospital that are a much bigger problem than the reps who are educating.

Final thought: Don't be mad at the reps for doing thier job. Don't be jealous either. There is opportunity for you as well in the industry as a rep. I know you all have thought about at one time or another. Heck, if you quit bashing the reps and make friends with one, they may even help you get in.


Posted by Alison Young
Sunday, April 19, 2009 10:21 AM EST

Well said, former rep. I am also a former rep for Pfizer and Aventis and I could not agree more. Doctors are too busy to know about new products, additions to individual classes of drugs, new indications, etc.

Reps from reputable companies provide a very useful service to the healthcare industry not to mention give a way millions of dollars worth of free samples to patients who cannot afford their medicine.

Over the years, I have been asked by more than 20 friends/acquaintances/relatives for help on how to break in the pharmaceutical industry. People who criticize are often jealous of the reps for their flexible schedules, great salaries, and perks of the job.

Comments for this article are closed.

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