Docs want detailed, comparative, customized info from reps

September 1, 2003

Pharmaceutical Representative

Primary care physicians say that customized content, clinical evidence and comparative analyses of medicines top their wish lists for visits from pharmaceutical representatives.

Primary care physicians say that customized content, clinical evidence and comparative analyses of medicines top their wish lists for visits from pharmaceutical representatives, according to a survey released by New York-based consulting firm Accenture.

The survey was conducted through telephone interviews with 100 primary care physicians in the United States in June 2003.

Top influences

Nearly one-third (30%) of physicians surveyed said they consider pharmaceutical sales representatives important sources of information. When asked to identify top influences on their prescribing decisions, physicians cited only peer-reviewed clinical journals (80%) and industry associations and meetings (34%) before sales representatives (30%), with colleagues and the Internet rounding out the list at 27% and 16%, respectively.

Physicians, on average, reported that approximately one-third of sales visits are helpful, and 36% said they want more medical information, including current, comparative or clinical data and analyses that are relevant to their practices, as well as objective sources of information on usage and side effects.

"After several decades, the basic detailing model is ripe for evolution," said David Blumberg, a partner in Accenture's Health and Life Sciences practice. "The opportunity for the industry lies in moving beyond sales force growth and mass promotion to arming reps with tailored information for individual physicians – information that will help improve their practices and patient care."

Almost half of physicians (48%) cited their time and availability as the factor that most influences their willingness to meet with pharmaceutical sales representatives. Other factors included free samples (14%), an existing relationship with the representative (14%), interest in new products (10%) and the need for product-specific information (8%).

"There is an untapped opportunity for differentiation," said Blumberg. "While sales reps are a valuable resource, pharmaceutical industry leaders are realizing that the best way to combat diminishing returns from the current sales model is by individualizing education and service to each medical professional." PR

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