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Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Drug Reps No Longer Quite So Popular

AMNews.com reports on the changing relationship between doctors and representatives from pharmaceutical companies.  Kevin O'Reilly writes,

Pharmaceutical companies -- battered by a sluggish drug pipeline, the looming loss of blockbuster patented drugs, an economy in recession and scrutiny of their relationships with physicians -- are re-examining the value of sending drug reps into doctors' offices. Detailers are struggling to grab a shrinking slice of physicians' valuable time and attention while adjusting to new drug industry rules banning freebies such as pens and notepads. . . .

The time squeeze and the new drug industry rules are "changing the landscape quite dramatically," Nalen said. Another troubling sign for drugmakers: More than a third of medical schools require drug reps to have appointments before seeing physicians or residents, according to the American Medical Student Assn.'s 2008 PharmFree Scorecard. The Assn. of American Medical Colleges recommended the by-appointment-only policy in May 2008. . . .

About one in four physicians works in a practice that refuses to see drug reps. Of doctors who do see reps, about 40% will meet with detailers only with scheduled appointments. The by-appointment-only figure jumped 23% during the last six months of 2008, according to a survey of more than 227,000 medical practices representing 640,000 physicians that was released in February.

The survey, conducted by the doctor-profiling firm SK&A Information Services Inc., did not seek to determine why some physicians are giving drug reps the cold shoulder. But physicians and pharmaceutical industry consultants say doctors have felt besieged by the number of reps visiting their offices and taking up precious time in an era of declining payment. . . .

Here is the chart attached to the article showing the different ways that physicians deal with various drug representatives.


Refuse
to see
Require
appointments
Practice size
1 to 2 doctors14.3%32.5%
3 to 516.7%36.1%
6 to 1023.1%45.0%
More than 1044.0%45.5%
Practice ownership
Non-hospital22.1%37.8%
Non-health system22.3%37.5%
Hospital31.2%44.6%
Health system34.7%52.0%

Source: "Physician Access: U.S. Physicians' Availability to See Drug and Device Sales Reps," SK&A Information Services Inc., released February


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