Education Trumps Regulation - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Education Trumps Regulation
New research points to the power of a highly educated sales force, supporting the case for a voluntary educational standard


Pharmaceutical Executive


To deal with the current onslaught of criticism against the industry in the United States, it is time to think about proactive steps to mitigate criticism and convince outsiders and providers that there is real value in the information exchange between clinicians and representatives. Industry leaders need to work with those in education and medicine—and also with critics—to quickly develop a voluntary educational standard. This will ensure that industry sales representatives who call on physicians to communicate information about their companies' products are ethical, well educated, and knowledgeable—exactly what our research shows physicians want. The industry should be proactive and lead through voluntary self-regulation and education rather than be legislated at the local, state, or federal level. A voluntary industry-wide learning standard would improve physician and sales representative interactions and demonstrate the value that quality education can lend to quality healthcare.

The Future

With the increasing regulation of the industry, legislative requirements could quickly become a bureaucratic nightmare, creating an environment in which each pharmaceutical company would need to make certain that its sales representatives adhere to the myriad standards and guidelines in different states or even municipalities. How would these regulations advance patient care?

We're at a critical juncture in the way the pharma industry sells and markets its products. We must act now and with a very real sense of urgency. We must find ways to demonstrate to the public and to providers the valuable role that the industry and its R&D activities play in improving the health and longevity of our nation's citizens. By increasing education and setting voluntary industry-wide standards, the industry can show its commitment to professionalism while ensuring that sales reps go beyond marketing to enhance the quality of patient care.

James E. Dutton is president of the CMR Institute. He can be reached at


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