Sunday, November 8, 2009

A day at work: seeing drug reps

I'd like to share with my readers a side of work that rarely gets mentioned or shown on any move or television show about medicine - seeing drug reps. It's like they don't exist in the video world. Reps are well dressed, articulate, friendly, and frankly often attractive. They are sales people, after all. Their job is to increase the number of prescriptions, new and old, of their company's product. They do this be being likeable, by bringing the all important drug samples, and some times goodies to eat. Current PhRMA guidelines limit them to basically food - either a snack or meal. They remind actually everyone in the office, patients, and health care providers alike, that their products are available and would like to be prescribed. It's standard salesmanship.

So what's the problem? Things are never as simple as they seem. 99% of the time, drug reps show up without an appointment. Time spent with staff equals more prescriptions, so they start talking with everyone that will listen. This behavior disrupts the already late care for waiting patients. Some reps do not respect this intrusion and attempt to prolong discussions with the doctor. They may try to go over their approved advertising sales aids or studies. Some try pressure tactics and attempt to extract a promise from the doctors that they will "just try" the product out. The worst is when their manager is spending the day observing the new hire's job performance. Then there's the sheer variety. Allergy has a very narrow range of diseases and drugs that are prescribed. Nonetheless, there are at least 16 major drug companies and at least 5-10 smaller drug companies. Each has reps. The larger companies have 2-3 reps covering one of our offices.  We have 3 offices, so that means during any given week, I may see a rep from the same company several times during the same week.  On average, I see 5-10 reps each day. It's a lot of extra names, faces, and talking.  Some reps take the tack of comparing their product to their competitor. Unfortunately, for every "pro" study, the doctor or competitor rep can list a "con" study. It's confusing. I understand they have a job to do and I'm not saying I'm a better human being than them (because I'm not), but on busy days, I'm happier when I don't have to talk to any drug reps. because I've got lots else to do concerning direct patient care.

No comments:

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.
My Zimbio Medicine Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory