Sales reps blame the media for pharma’s (and their own)P.R. woes

 Sales

Who's to blame for the sagging image of the drug industry? Many have pointed the finger at sales reps and their, allegedly, unscrupulous tactics. But of course the reps have their own ideas about what ails the industry. Poor media coverage is a popular opinion, suggests a new report, summarized below (with a link to an 8-page synopsis):

PHARMA SALES REPS BLAME MEDIA FOR DECLINING REPUTATION OF HEALTHCARE MANUFACTURERS: G & S RESEARCH'S REP REVIEW EXPLORES THE FRONT LINE OF THE PHARMACEUTICAL MARKET

CARMEL, IN, June 1, 2006—Findings from RepReview 2005 show that pharmaceutical sales representatives overwhelmingly believe that public opinion of drug manufacturers declined in the past year, and most identified media exposure as the culprit. Among other reasons cited for the decline are high medication costs, the perception of manufacturers’ greed, and unsafe/failed drugs and related lawsuits. One responding rep commented that pharma is “the next tobacco industry.” Another stated that the problem lies in “too much bad press and litigation” and noted a general “misunderstanding of how pharmaceuticals are discovered, used, and marketed.” Still another said that public opinion has been swayed by “poor media representation of drug pricing, a glorification of generics with no investigation into generic problems, and the portrayal of drug companies as hawks.” Key Findings
  • An increasing number of reps (up 17% from 2003) believe that DTC advertising is influencing their job, and most indicated that the effect is positive.
  • Nearly all (93%) indicated that PhRMA guidelines are negatively impacting their job as a sales rep. These guidelines are further limiting access and time with physicians and/or staff, and they are making program recruitment more difficult.
  • When reps were asked what company they have the greatest respect for, GlaxoSmithKline was named most; Johnson & Johnson came in as a close second. Genentech—the third most-respected company from a sales rep perspective—improved most over the 2003 wave of this study.
  • Reps want more training in disease states and less on pharmaceutical marketplace issues.
  • Significantly more reps reported in 2005 (90%) that physicians discuss and/or use point-of-care reference tools than in 2003 (52%.
  • Of the 72% of respondent reps who reported that they do not get enough time with physicians, more than two-thirds cited “too many competitor representatives taking up physicians’ time” as the most significant reason.
A synopsis of this important study is available at RepReview 2005 Study Synopsis. The full report will address additional topics, including reps’ opinions regarding their compensation, national thought leaders, and co-promotions as well as results related to effective detailing approaches, marketing departments, and more. The findings of this research will help corporate leaders in the pharmaceutical marketplace develop strategies for managing their most expensive fixed asset—the sales force. If you are interested in receiving more information about this report or discussing these findings, please contact Jenny Brown at 317-819-4339 or jbrown@gs-research.com.