Promotional meetings, events on the rise

November 1, 2000

Pharmaceutical Representative

The number of pharmaceutical company-sponsored physician meetings and events skyrocketed from 70,000 in 1993 to 280,000 in 1999, according to Newtown, PA-based Scott-Levin's Physician Meeting & Event Audit. Between 1998 and 1999, the number of events held for doctors jumped 25%.

The number of pharmaceutical company-sponsored physician meetings and events skyrocketed from 70,000 in 1993 to 280,000 in 1999, according to Newtown, PA-based Scott-Levin's Physician Meeting & Event Audit. Between 1998 and 1999, the number of events held for doctors jumped 25%.

High rate of acceptance

Meetings and events continue to be an effective way to get doctors' attention, according to PMEA's annual invitation analysis. Physicians attended almost half (47%) of the events they were invited to in 1999.

Doctors were more likely to accept invitations to events associated with a pharmaceutical company. While physicians said yes to only 40% of invitations not associated with a manufacturer last year, they accepted 49% of invitations associated with a drug firm.

Who actually makes the invitation matters, too. Pharmaceutical sales representatives extended 65% of all invitations; however, physicians accepted only about half (47%) of those invitations. Doctors were more likely to say yes (59%) when a third-party organization made the invitation on behalf of the manufacturer.

To attract physicians to meetings, companies are getting more creative. Invitations collected in 1999 included celebrity autograph signings, wine tastings, mystery dinner theaters, shows and family outings such as Halloween hayrides and trips to the zoo.

However, doctors reported that many (45%) 1999 invitations were for events at restaurants, with a 38% acceptance rate. Hotel locations accounted for 18% of invitations, with 45% being accepted.

Only 4% of events were held in physicians' homes, but these had the highest acceptance rate: 87%. Offices and research facilities were used as locations even less often, but when they were, acceptance rates hovered around 70% to 80%.

Why doctors RSVP

Physicians told Scott-Levin that a meeting's subject matters most. In 1999, 74% of doctors cited "interest in the topic" as a main reason for attending events. A convenient location was cited by half, and honoraria, reputation of the speaker and continuing medical education credits were also mentioned as important.

Scott-Levin's audit reported that the main reason for declining a meeting invitation was a scheduling conflict , according to 68% of physicians, followed by an inconvenient location (18%) and lack of interest in a topic (17%).

Allergists-immunologists had the highest acceptance rate for event invitations (68%). Acceptance was also highest among doctors in practice for 26 years or more (54%). PR

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