Pharma Rep Access Down 33 Per Cent Since 2008

Pharmaceutical Executive

The steady decline of pharmaceutical sales representative access to physicians is spreading to previously rep-friendly specialties, says the ZS Associates spring 2014 AccessMonitorT report.

The steady decline of pharmaceutical sales representative access to physicians is spreading to previously rep-friendly specialties, says the ZS Associates spring 2014 AccessMonitorT report.

The report aggregated sales-call summaries from more than 200 U.S. pharmaceutical sales teams and examined how often approximately 325,000 physicians and other prescribers meet with the pharmaceutical sales reps who visit their offices.

Overall access to physicians has declined by 33 per cent since the first report in 2008. Approximately half (49 per cent) of physicians in the U.S. placed moderate-to-severe restrictions on visits from pharma sales reps in 2014.

While these figures are discouraging, “most physicians still view these reps as valuable sources of information,” said Pratap Khedkar, principal and leader of ZS’s pharmaceuticals practice. “Pharmacos just need to find new ways to reach these customers.”

In terms of specialty physicians, there is a decline in rep access among previously rep-friendly specialties such as dermatology, gastroenterology and pediatrics. The report concludes that this is driven by greater demands on doctors’ time, growing payer/provider consolidations and an increasing number of younger doctors who would rather receive the latest news and communicate with pharmacos via digital channels and their mobile devices.

To combat the decline, current market dynamics need to be more customer-centric and focus on the value of rep/physician interactions across all the brands, says Khedkar. “Companies who communicate via a physician’s preferred channel will be rewarded with his/her attention.” 

As many as 50 channels exist today, including e-detailing, in-office promotions, virtual speaker programs and webinars, and social media communities. Khedkar adds: “The rep must play a critical role to help companies successfully orchestrate these channels and meet the specific needs of their customers.”