Tuesday, April 24, 2007

You thought the pharmaceutical industry was slimy before reading this post?

You're a drug rep selling psych meds (hey, had to make the post fit this week's Grand Rounds somehow!), and you have to meet your quota. The family doc whose office you're walking up to right now, though, is 100% hardass.

You can bet that you won't even get the chance to have any face time with him - even though his secretary always cleans out your briefcase full of samples (this doc's one of the "sample-grabbers" you heard about in training), this doc will only see you if it's by accident, and even then, pretend you don't exist.

Which of the following best describes your attitude?

a) Scared stiff.
There's no way you can up sales if you can't even see the doctor.
b) Pretty nervous.
What if he's behind the counter when you come in and he yells at you?
c) Pissed off.
This is going to be a waste of an appointment.
d) Thrilled.
You know you can accomplish your objectives - probably even better - even if you only talk to the secretary.

If you answered D, you're a slimy lizard, and you'll make an ideal drug rep.

In fact, you'd make an even better one if you believe that there's a "d) thrilled" answer for every single type of doctor - from those who prefer competing drugs, to the skeptical, to the high-prescribers, to the friendly and outgoing, to the ones who won't even meet with drug reps.

That is, after all, how the drug companies train their reps to think.

Thanks to a new journal article out called "Following the Script: How Drug Reps Make Friends and Infl uence Doctors," available to anyone here at the PLoS online peer-reviewed journal, you can get an eye-opening glimpse into the mind of a pharmaceutical drug rep.

The article concludes, "Physicians must rely on information on drugs from unconflicted sources, and seek friends among those who are not paid to be friends."

I'll admit, reading this made me a heck of a lot more wary. Even just a few months into medical school, I've already seen drug reps in action at the family practice clinic I go to for class an afternoon a week. I've seen everything including pens, patient chart notes, and Kleenex boxes supplied by drug companies, with their logo stamped thereupon (though I honestly can't remember any of those sponsoring companies...then again I haven't been prescribing very much yet). I've also gotten a couple free meals thanks to drug companies, and there are students in my class (who instill much jealousy within me) that have clinic at a group family practice office and a different drug rep each week brings lunch for all the docs and staff there.

I strongly encourage you to take a look at the article, even if it's just to browse the fascinating table explaining how a drug rep approaches each of the doctor types listed above. If, like me, you had little to no idea what's going on - or, if you're routinely visited by these reps - you need to at least give this article a glimpse.

By the way, I proceeded to write about this again - link to Version 2, here.


Anonymous said...

We call it capitalism, it is what creates all the medication that doctors prescribe.

Anonymous said...

Naw, capitalism is what produces the profits that motivate the greedy bastards.

Castillonis said...

That was an excellent article. Thanks for the extra insight.

The Angry Medic said...

Wowsers. Da, komrad, that WAS a good article. Am sure this'll make it into Grand Rounds. Now where's that drug rep's number? I feel a bit hungry.