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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 20011

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

Pemble L
New way to handle drug reps
Medical Observer 1998 Aug 2165

Full text:

How does a GP squeeze a visit from a pharmaceutical company rep into a busy day?

If you see them, your appointment schedule just falls further behind. If you turn them away, will your patients know more about the latest drugs than you do?

The recent launch of a new business devoted solely to the task of organising rep visits indicates the extent of the problem for doctors.

A computerised booking system, QuickPlan, is now offering to take over the job for up to 50 surgeries in Sydney’s western suburbs and lower north shore.

Company director Nicholas Edwards said the service was free to doctors, as the pharmaceutical companies were charged a fee per appointment made.

The service had been welcomed by doctors and receptionists.

“The GPs seem quite interested – they’re happy to pass the whole problem onto someone else”, he said.

Another way to get around to the problem of juggling rep visits is to use the Internet to chase up the latest product information.

Most pharmaceutical companies now have Websites with product updates and news on the progress of drug approvals.

Some practices take a group approach to the problem by setting aside one night when all doctors in the practice can get together for a presentation. Others attend product launches.

Another answer to the problem is to refuse to see reps altogether, according to president of the Medical Lobby of Appropriate Marketing, Dr Peter Mansfield.

“We know an increasing number of doctors are refusing to see reps and the pharmaceutical industry is very concerned about that”, he said.

Dr Mansfield said studies had shown too much variation in the quality of information a doctor gets from pharmaceutical reps.

This problem was being tackled overseas by developing standards for reps to work towards, including reporting of contraindications, and effects of the drug during pregnancy, with a checklist for doctors to tick off during the visit.

Dr Mansfield said he keeps up with the latest updates by reading the Australian Medicine Handbook and therapeutic guidelines.


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