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Continued from Previous……
This is Part 3 of 3 blog series based on the study published in Integrated Pharmacy Research and Practice Journal from Dovepress. The study is titled ‘A quantitative insight of the interactions of prescribers with pharmaceutical organization’s representatives in clinical settings of Karachi’. It was published in 2019.
Study results are under discussion. [Quote]
Respondents’ opinion regarding gifts/ promotional items received from MSRs
- Around half of the respondents believed that physicians cannot be compromised with very expensive gifts and they will maintain the same contact with MSRs without gifts.
- About 61% of the respondents opined that gifts are a suitable way to learn about new products.
- Regarding promotional items, majority of population (75.84%) considered that promotional items are ethically appropriate; however, 66.21% thought that promotional items influence the practice of prescribing.
- More than half (52.18%) deemed promotional material as more reliable than a printed advertisement.
Respondents’ opinion regarding medication samples received from MSRs
- More than 80% of the respondents opined that medication samples are ethically appropriate and are influential.
- More than 65% of the respondents thought that medication samples help doctors learn about medications; however, they should be only be given to the financially needy.
- More than 60% considered sponsored lunches appropriate and deemed that they should be continued.
- About 50% believed that sponsored continuing medical education (CME) trips are ethically appropriate.
- Around 70% of the respondents considered that accepting money from pharmaceutical companies to give lectures is ethical.
- Around 69% thought that company-sponsored meetings promote their own drugs under the disguise of CME programs.
Discussion and Conclusion
The present study results are in line with a developing country findings in which physicians acknowledged the fact that MSR played a prominent role in imparting knowledge and relevant information to physicians and emphasized that MSR visits facilitate physicians’ learning about new drug utilization. A prior study from Pakistan reported that the majority of practitioners expected good communication skills and knowledge from MSRs. The interaction of physician with MSR is significantly important as pharmaceutical companies rely heavily on various sales promotion strategies.
In the current study, majority believed that the only goal of MSRs is the promotion of their products and many even claimed that MSRs provide misleading information for promoting their products.
The present study is similar in line with the study that highlighted the fact that the majority of the physicians (80.2%) emphasized the need for regulating ethical norms to maintain physician–pharmaceutical companies’ interactions. There is a common practice that physicians and pharmaceutical companies strengthen their relations by gifting various promotional items to physicians. Even in the developed countries, pharmaceutical companies are involved in numerous types of influence practices comprising speciously healthy activities of CMEs, where nearly ~70% of pharmaceutical enterprise finance support is going in and which also comprises tours to resorts and holiday trips to extravagant places in the name of CME lectures and conferences…
The present study concluded that physicians and MSR liaisons are necessary to ensure relevant pharmaceutical drug product information. Their collaboration is also important for solving potential ethical dilemmas associated with the mushrooming of pharmaceutical companies that tend to surpass another company with respect to quality, and cost of the drug product. This requires national regulatory authorities to exercise ethical marketing practices.[Unquote]
Comments – Mine
We know that the Medical Reps are the main link between the physicians and the Pharma company. However, lately, this layer has not been receiving the attention it deserves. Couple of companies have tried to de-emphasize the role of MRs by maintaining direct contact with the customers. It had had some success, but it created some other kind of problems. The biggest take away from this study is that the Pharma Salespersons should be trained, groomed, equipped with adequate knowledge and skills, and employed to build brands and businesses through effective promotion.
Investments are a useful tool, but these are not a substitute for personal selling; these are add-ons to reinforce promotion. We also know that gifts, CMEs, foreign trips, services have largely lost their initial impact. The Return on Investment – ROI – is dwindling and the remedy is not more investment. Better, newer, and more effective tools need to be developed, but the new tools shall yield good results only if the men-behind-the-gun are also effective. Pharma Industry needs to come to terms with the new realities.
To be Continued……
- Sadia Shakil – Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi.
- Shagufta Nesar – Faculty of Pharmacy, Hamdard University Karachi.
- Wajiha Iffat – Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi.
- Bilqees Fatima – Faculty of Pharmacy, Hamdard University, Karachi.
- Tahmina Maqbool – Faculty of Pharmacy, Hamdard University, Karachi.
- Shazia Jamshed – Department of Pharmacy Practice, International Islamic University Malaysia, Pahang, Malaysia.
Disclaimer. Dove Press Journal of Integrated Pharmacy Research and Practice is an open-access journal and non-commercial use of published information is allowed without need for further permission. I had, all the same, sent a mail to the correspondence address given on the paper for information and permission of researchers, but it was returned undelivered.
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