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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 20010

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.

 

Publication type: Magazine

Mackinven M
Sales reps losing ground with GPs
New Zealand Doctor News 1999 Dec 9


Full text:

The importance of drug reps to GPs continues to decline according to an annual survey of GP views of drug companies.

Shane Pearse, of market research company IMS Health, says results from the third annual survey infer GPs are relying less on drug reps for information, possibly in light of increasing influence from IPAs and Pharmac over what drugs are available.

For example only two ACE inhibitors are fully subsidised, so seeing a rep may be increasingly pointless, Mr Pearse says.

However, Glaxo Wellcome sales and marketing manager Ken Scott is not so sure the often maligned but essential pharmaceutical salesperson is redundant. He disputes the assumption that sales reps have a diminished role saying they will still be important to communicate about technical products and keep doctors up to date with advancements in medicine and services such as CME and educational material for patients. In fact it’s Glaxo’s committed trained sales force which earned the company’s top score for customer service, Mr Scott says.

Glaxo was top for the third year in a row for overall customer service, top in provision of CME, and second-best at responding to the changing health-care environment. Roche rated second for overall customer service and Parke Davis rates best at adapting to the changing healthcare environment.

Parke Davis senior product manager Mark Morrison says his company is seen as most adaptive because it has been innovative with Pharmac, Parke Davis introduced Liptor (atorvastatin) with full funding in return for reducing its price of Accupril (quinapril) by 60 per cent.

“Our company’s viewpoint is pragmatic. We’ll work to meet objectives that have a win-win with Pharmac”, Mr Morrison says. The company has never litigated.

In the survey 600 of New Zealand’s 2500 GPs were mailed the questionnaire with the incentive of a gift hamper for the first 100 responses. Predictably, according to Mr Pearse, about 108 doctors replied, giving an 18 per cent response rate. A higher rate is likely for a shorter questionnaire, bigger incentive or survey for doctors’ own body such as the RNZCGP. GPs scored companies on 23 attributes such as sales representatives’ product knowledge and the company’s ability to handle inquirers.

 

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What these howls of outrage and hurt amount to is that the medical profession is distressed to find its high opinion of itself not shared by writers of [prescription] drug advertising. It would be a great step forward if doctors stopped bemoaning this attack on their professional maturity and began recognizing how thoroughly justified it is.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963