Back to the Future? - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Back to the Future?
Some states want to block access to doctor-level prescribing data. And the AMA helps members keep prescription records away from sales reps. An "old timer" remembers how he sold before databases came along. (Very well, as a matter of fact.)


Pharmaceutical Executive


Sales representatives will have to develop new levels of teamwork with their peers. As data becomes less specific, it will be more important for them to work closely and share "pearls" of information. Many organizations have multiple sales reps calling on the same doctor. A piece of information has maximum impact only if it is shared and applied by everyone. Sales-force-automation systems may need to be altered to help reps build information sources for each prescriber. Without this ability to accumulate data about each physician, information may be lost.

No one wants to go back in time. But the possibility exists that pharma's future may resemble the past. PDRP, if it becomes a widely used program, will add old but familiar challenges to sales reps' jobs. Without comprehensive databases, sales representatives will once again become the best source of information about a prescriber. Reps' sensitivity to a doctor's unique marketplace, and their awareness of the pressures on physicians in their territories, makes them greater assets in the customer's eyes. By applying account-based selling techniques in a community setting, sales reps should be able to overcome the challenges of PDRP and state legislation, as they develop a better idea of who their key players are. And unlike Marty McFly, sales reps can prepare to meet the challenges of a new environment that may closely resemble the past.

"Old timer" Scott Hull is associate director, sales and marketing, at CV Therapeutics. He can be reached at


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