No, it’s not time to “kill the medical rep”

KEY TAKEAWAY: The idea that it’s time to “kill the medical rep” is myopic and just plain stupid.  Pharma sales reps do serve a purpose, but in order to make them more effective pharma has to ensure that they add value to HCP’s.

The owner of the pharmaceutical marketing group on LinkedIn has published another shortsighted article basically saying that pharma reps are not needed anymore.  That is pure horse hockey.

I just opened up my binder on all the research we have done on this topic with HCP’s and while there is substantial room for improvement some doctors rely on their reps to keep them updated on their companies’ products.

However, there were some suggestions that we relayed to clients:

1ne: Reps should not be business college graduates.  Rather, they should have some type of medical degree or background so that physicians can talk to them peer to peer.

2wo: The more complicated the product/health condition, the more HCP’s want to hear/meet with reps.  Although DRG recently reported that 68% of Oncologists were given the same information as they got online they still feel that pharma reps are needed because of the complexity of products.

3hree: Physicians don’t want to meet with pharma sales reps who are new to the company/profession.  As one doctor told me “don’t hire a good looking woman with a business degree and expect me to talk to her, in depth, about the product she is detailing me on.

4our: Pharma should ensure that reps add value beyond what physicians can find online. They should be measuring rep value at every interaction.

Two years ago we did a test with the launch of a new oncology drug.  In one geographical area of the country reps were not used while in another reps were used to detail physicians. The result was that physicians who were detailed by a rep were more than twice as likely to prescribe/use the product for patients who met treatment guidelines.

Sales reps do serve a purpose, but pharma has to invest in better training and better metrics to ensure their value.