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There can be little doubt that pharma needs to rebuild trust with physicians and the Medical Representatives Certification Commission represents one of the biggest efforts to do exactly that.
The first time I dealt with the question of certification I was writing for Drug Topics magazine, the venerable pharmacy industry publication. At issue was a nascent effort to standardize the pharmacy technician position across the industry and restore patient's trust in what was increasingly becoming the public face of pharmacies.
It seemed like an odd project. Many techs—though certainly not all—were young and the position was the first "real" job. Going through the process of certification represented a major commitment on their parts, and it was unclear whether the public would even recognize the effort.
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board followed all the right steps and created a fair process for certification. The pharmacy industry rewarded that effort by embracing the initiative. Major chains provided incentives to techs to study and pass the examination and supported all the efforts of PTCB. Since 1995 more than 350,000 techs have completed certification.
Now pharma is faced with a similar choice. There can be little doubt that pharma needs to rebuild trust with physicians and the Medical Representatives Certification Commission represents one of the biggest efforts to do exactly that. MRCC offers the only independently verifiable mechanism for ensuring that reps understand and represent the highest level of ethical, regulatory and clinical professionalism. To be sure, the vast majority of reps already do that in their day-to-day activities, but proving it to sceptics is another matter.
Will pharma get it? That part remains to be seen. Ultimately, for MRCC to succeed it will take broad support. Reps need to recognize the value in devoting time and money to becoming certified. Even more importantly, pharma companies need to incentivize rep participation and financial MRCC's goals. If that happens, there's every reason to believe doctors will recognize the effort. If not? We'll probably see more of the same: A declining reputation, more regulation and shrinking access.