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Continued from Previous……
This is Appendix to the 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. The link appears at the bottom.
The findings are interesting and revealing, though not entirely groundbreaking. We shall take our discussion further to see where we are now, vis-à-vis the original scope of Pharma Salesperson-Doctor relationship.
Scope of Medical Rep – Doctor relationship
The original scope of work of medical rep and its present status is as follows.
- Provision of detailed information about product, its indications, contraindications, drug interactions, i.e., pharmacological profile – The medical reps are presently not knowledgeable enough to provide information. They are neither given training by the company nor they try to get it themselves. Majority of medical reps do not even understand what is printed on the promotional folders which they present to doctors. They do not understand medical terminology. The quest for knowledge is absent and the thirst for knowledge is non-existent.
- Providing replies to queries of doctors; from their own knowledge, or by getting from the company – Even the company in many cases is neither geared for providing training to their medical reps nor have enough information base to satisfy customer queries. I am witness to many instances where the doctor was desperately trying to extract information from the medical rep, but he was so ignorant that he could not give out anything.
- Persuading the doctor to prescribe his/her product on merit – Merit comes from placing the product in the right place so that it helps the doctor to make right decisions about its use. Since the med rep does not have knowledge, he cannot persuade the doctor on the merit of product. What is left with him is one or more of these tools: requesting for support to protect his job, requesting for the sake of family and children, offering services on behalf of company, offering cash, offering gifts, offering very personal services like paying utility bills, children fees, buying groceries etc. Persuasion is entirely based on factors attempting to appeal to doctor at the personal rather than professional level. This sort of persuasion is short-lived, fragile, and likely to shift quickly from one to other individual.
- Keep a constant liaison with the customer to continue stream of prescriptions, share doctors’ experience, reply queries if any – The constant liaison is certainly there, but the purpose and nature changes due to lack of actual merit. The spirit of service between seller and buyer is an integral part of relationship but the nature of relationship is determined by the professional parameters, not anything else. Presently, this relationship has left the professional norms to varying degrees. In case of some companies, it has left the professional terms altogether and gone entirely into personal realm.
- Keep watch on competition, rebutting their efforts where necessary to protect their own business – Presently, the medical reps do keep watch on competition, but from a different perspective. He is trying to protect the personal relation he so laboriously cultivates and protects. The rebuttal is also based in the same spirit rather than any professional consideration.
- Maintain balance between information and business – There is no balance whatsoever. It is only business at any cost and by any means. Since the information part is sadly missing, only the other tools are used. The balance is logically impossible because one important part, the information, is missing altogether.
As you see the above, it becomes clear that the medical rep-doctor relationship has changed significantly and irrevocably during the last twenty years or so. The change did not come overnight, it had been coming insidiously and slowly and has now changed the entire face of Pharma sales profession.
The reply to the question whether the previous version of medical rep-doctor can be restored, is in negative. The previous state shall not come back. However, we can try to move further forward and create a newer, better form of transaction.
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