Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Doctors Say Most Pharma Sales Details Are "Stale" 

Doctors Say Most Pharma Sales Details Are "Stale"  | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Despite the pharma sales force making great strides towards “digitizing the field” with tablets and other technologies – a new study from DRG Digital’s Manhattan Research finds that the content reps are showing in details is often old news. Physicians who see sales reps say that over half of the time (51%), the reps show them information they have already seen through their own research or in previous meetings.

 

The ePharma Physician® study of 1,814 U.S. practicing physicians across 25 specialties found several key missed opportunities in the field.

 

Details are not evolving in step with physicians’ reliance on digital for info:

  • The “stale detail” phenomenon is even more prominent among certain specialties. For example, medical oncologists who see reps say that 68% of the time, their reps show them info they’ve already seen, and dermatologists say the same of 62% of details.
  • Today’s physicians are now adept at finding clinical info online, as they need it – and reps that focus too much time on basic product and promotional info risk boring them with info they already knew. 74% of physicians use search engines weekly or more, and 52% use pharma digital resources regularly, with product-related info being the most accessed website resource.
  • Reps must evolve their details to stay relevant and provide utility to docs, and showing non-promotional resources on tablets can help. 63% of physicians agreed that in-person meetings with sales reps are more valuable when resources not related to the product are shown.
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A Chance for Pharma Sales Reps to “Cleanse” Their Souls: Work for Insurers to Promote Generics to Docs

A Chance for Pharma Sales Reps to “Cleanse” Their Souls: Work for Insurers to Promote Generics to Docs | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

As a drug salesman, Mike Courtney worked hard to make health care expensive. He wined and dined doctors, golfed with them and bought lunch for their entire staffs — all to promote pills often costing thousands of dollars a year.

 

He’s on a different mission now: When he calls on doctors, he champions generic drugs that frequently cost pennies and work just as well as the kinds of expensive brands he used to push.

 

Instead of Big Pharma, he works for Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan, an Albany, N.Y., insurer. Instead of maximizing pill profits, his job is to save millions of dollars by educating doctors about expensive prescription drugs and the stratagems used to sell them.

 

“Having come from Big Pharma, I do really feel my soul has been cleansed,” Courtney said with a laugh. He formerly worked for Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. “I do feel like I’m more in touch with the physicians” and plan members, he added.

 

Two years ago, when one company increased the cost of a common diabetes medicine to 20 times what it had been a few years earlier, Courtney and five other former pharma and medical-device representatives working for C.D.P.H.P. knew what to do.

 

Valeant Pharmaceuticals had cranked up the price of a common dosage of Glumetza, a medicine for lowering blood sugar, to an astonishing $81,270 a year, according to Truven Health Analytics, a data firm. Meanwhile a similar generic version could be bought for as little as a penny a pill.

 

After Courtney and his colleagues alerted doctors to Valeant’s practices, all but a handful of the 60 plan members who were taking Glumetza switched to metformin, the generic alternative. That saved about $5 million in a year.

 

The idea to hire Big Pharma representatives originated with John Bennett, a cardiologist, a few years ago, after he became C.D.P.H.P.’s chief executive. He knew that the sales representatives were smart, genial and motivated. Overhiring by the pharmaceutical companies had put many back in the job market.

 

His sales pitch to them, he says half-jokingly, was: “You know everything they taught you in Big Pharma? How would you like to use those powers for good?”

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Valeant Looks to Revive Xifaxan with "Bubble Guts the Sales Rep." Will It Work?

Valeant Looks to Revive Xifaxan with "Bubble Guts the Sales Rep." Will It Work? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Now that Valeant’s $10 billion talks to sell its Salix unit to Takeda have reportedly fallen through, the company is taking matters into its own hands with a “significant” GI sales force expansion. But whether that expansion can help get its lagging meds going remains to be seen.

 

The plan? Rev up growth in the underperforming GI business by adding reps who will focus on potential primary care physician prescribers of IBS-D med Xifaxan and oral opioid-induced constipation med Relistor, Valeant said this week. The way the company sees it, it can reach “a significant majority” of likely Xifaxan and oral Relistor PCPs with the effort, which it will roll out “over the coming weeks.”

 

As with many key Valeant products, wannabe blockbuster Xifaxan has been struggling lately (read “Xifaxan Sales Down - Will $9.8 M Super Bowl Ad Redeem ‘Bubble Guts’?”; http://sco.lt/5WS4sz). In building a primary care sales force, “our goal ... is to maximize opportunities for Xifaxan and Relistor to help our products reach full potential,” CEO Joseph Papa said in a statement.

 

It’s a new tack for Valeant, which was just about ready to let those moneymakers change hands until price squabbles scuttled a potential deal with Takeda, which has tried multiple times to acquire them. Now, Valeant CEO Papa is calling the GI franchise a “core asset for future growth”—meaning it may no longer be part of the group of businesses Valeant’s willing to divest in order to pay down its debt load.

 

Meanwhile, though, Papa has blamed sales force woes for triggering Xifaxan’s poor performance to begin with. In June, the new skipper attributed the product’s slump to “sales force disruption” over the past 12 months (read “Valeant CEO Blames Salesforce, Not Shitty Ads, for Disappointing Xifaxan Sales”; http://sco.lt/78DCEL).

Pharma Guy's insight:

Related Story: “Two DTC Ad Mascots Make it to the Super Bowl. Both are Losers!”; http://sco.lt/8RgBE1

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Chicago Ordinance to Require Pharma Sales Reps to be Licensed "May Be Helpful, But Has Limitations"

Chicago Ordinance to Require Pharma Sales Reps to be Licensed "May Be Helpful, But Has Limitations" | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

In hopes of reducing inappropriate opioid prescribing, the Chicago City Council on Wednesday, November 16, 2016, passed an ordinance that requires all pharmaceutical sales reps to become licensed.

 

The ordinance, which the pharmaceutical industry opposed, will require sales reps to undergo training for ethics, marketing regulations, and applicable laws. Reps will also have to file reports with the city that disclose the names of doctors they visit as part of their work, the number of visits, and any samples, materials, or gifts provided, along with their value. Reps will also have to pay a $750 licensing fee and renew the licenses annually.

 

“Opioid addiction is a public health issue impacting cities like ours across the country,” said Dr. Julie Morita, the Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner, in a statement when the ordinance was unveiled last month. “Law enforcement alone cannot solve the problem.”

 

Th city said it paid for some prescriptions unnecessarily and has previously noted that its health insurance plan has reimbursed claims for approximately $12.3 million for opioids between 2008 and 2015. The city sued Purdue Pharma, Endo International, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Actavis (which is now Allergan), and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit. Pfizer reached a deal to avoid the lawsuit.

 

The city expects to collect more than $1 million in licensing revenue and will use that to support ongoing efforts to educate doctors and the public about opioids, and cover the cost of regulation, according to a spokeswoman for the Office of Budget and Management.

 

Chicago officials also hope to use the funds to boost existing investments in drug treatment, expand opioid and heroin addiction treatment, and provide seed funding to existing health clinics to expand and create new opioid treatment programs, she added.

 

Once the ordinance goes into effect next July, Chicago will become only the second government in the country to take such a move in order to license sales reps in hopes of clamping down on inappropriate marketing and prescribing. In 2008, Washington, D.C., began requiring sales reps to become licensed. A license costs $175.

 

One expert suggested the ordinance may be helpful, but may also have some limitations.

 

“If they collect all that information [about sales reps visits & physician prescribing habits], the city could use that as leverage on the pharmaceutical companies,” said John Mack, who publishes Pharma Marketing News. “The data they’re collecting could make a better case for the argument that doctors overprescribe these medications.”

 

However, he also noted that sales reps are following marching orders and, despite any required education or training, will remain under pressure to market certain medicines at certain times.

 

“I think will be hard to prove its an effective way to control the prescribing, so I don’t think it’s really going to solve the problem directly. It might help indirectly if the city can say that overprescribing is caused by aggressive sales tactics,” he continued. “I’m not sure how they can manipulate the data to prove anything. But they may be able to squeeze something out of the data. They’re asking for a lot.”

Pharma Guy's insight:

Note: The ordinance defines “pharmaceutical representative as “a person who markets or promotes pharmaceuticals to health care professionals,” which could include a marketer who prepares sales materials for sales reps or an independent agency that creates medical journal ads, etc.

 

Meanwhile, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani earned millions of dollars defending Purdue Pharma against charges of illegal promotion of its pain drug, OxyContin, the abuse of which DEA claims has killed hundreds of people -- mostly teenagers. See “Giuliani's OxyContin (and PhRMA) Money’; http://bit.ly/oxyGuiliani

 

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Citing "Headwinds," Valeant Fires All 140 Addyi Sales Reps

Citing "Headwinds," Valeant Fires All 140 Addyi Sales Reps | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Valeant Pharmaceuticals is firing the 140-person contract sales force that markets the Addyi female libido pill and another 143 sales reps who peddle dermatology medicines and a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome that is marketed to hospitals.

“We must adapt to headwinds that… are impacting anticipated growth rates in certain franchises and geographies,” Michael Pearson, the Valeant chief executive, wrote in a memo to employees today.

The firings come shortly after some investors reportedly criticized Valeant for failing to successfully promote the drug and setting its price too high. Last fall, Valeant bought Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which had just won regulatory approval for the Addyi pill amid controversy over its safety and effectiveness. Valeant is charging $800, or roughly double what Sprout market research had reportedly anticipated.

Although Valeant paid $1 billion for Sprout, the investment was expected to pay off quickly with sales forecasts showing $1 billion in sales over the past few months following a launch last September. Instead, Addyi has been a disappointment. 

Pharma Guy's insight:

You didn't need a crystal ball to see this one coming!

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#Pharma Sales Reps: Declined & Denied!

#Pharma Sales Reps: Declined & Denied! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Heard on World of DTC Marketing (here):


One of the reasons that pharma is allocating money to digital channels to reach HCP's is that access by sales reps continues to decline from 77.1% in 2009 to 68.1% in 2014.


HCP’s are under more pressure than ever to make their practices profitable and really don’t have time for conventional sales reps who are usually trained over one or two days and sent to try and have a peer to peer conversation with them.  In addition a lot of drugs really don’t require a sales rep to interact with physicians.

Pharma Guy's insight:


report published by Cegedim Strategic Data in January found that many physicians do like the convenience of digital marketing, especially email communications, video streaming, automated detailing, and webinars.


But despite the whiz-bang appeal of digital marketing, many physicians still prefer face-to-face communication, and most large pharmaceutical companies still rely on well-trained sales forces to deliver increasingly complex messages, in an ever-tightening timeframe, under circumstances that are not always ideal.


A growing number of doctors prefer digital communications and the pharmaceutical industry is currently in the process of moving its sales force to a smaller structure that is more directly aligned with this new reality. One aspect of that change is the deployment of "virtual" sales reps. This article presents a Wockhardt USA case, which employed the vRep virtual sales rep platform. 

  • What Are Reps Absolutely Needed For?
  • Physician Access Continues to Decline
  • What's the Cost of a Sales Rep Visit?
  • The Virtual Sales Rep - A Case Study


Download the full text PDF file here:
www.pharma-mkting.com/news/pmnews1303-article03.pdf

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Are "Boots on the Ground" Pharma Reps Still Necessary & Relevant in the Digital 21st Century?

Are "Boots on the Ground" Pharma Reps Still Necessary & Relevant in the Digital 21st Century? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it
Despite multiple challenges, pharma sales reps are holding their own, and some of the largest pharma companies are embracing them as a critical part of the 21st century sales model.


For the better part of the last decade, the diminishing role of the pharmaceutical sales representative as an integral part of the pharmaceutical sales model has been a hot topic.


[The] increasing reliance on digital non-personal promotion, which has been likened to a bogeyman determined to snuff the life out of the pharmaceutical sales profession, [makes] the picture look bleak. In fact, a report published by Cegedim Strategic Data in January found that many physicians do like the convenience of digital marketing, especially email communications, video streaming, automated detailing, and webinars.

Sales reps are still necessary and relevant

But despite the whiz-bang appeal of digital marketing, many physicians still prefer face-to-face communication, and most large pharmaceutical companies still rely on well-trained sales forces to deliver increasingly complex messages, in an ever-tightening timeframe, under circumstances that are not always ideal.

Pharma Guy's insight:


Meanwhile, a growing number of doctors prefer digital communications and the pharmaceutical industry is currently in the process of moving its sales force to a smaller structure that is more directly aligned with this new reality. One aspect of that change is the deployment of "virtual" sales reps. This article presents a Wockhardt USA case, which employed the vRep virtual sales rep platform. 

  • What Are Reps Absolutely Needed For?
  • Physician Access Continues to Decline
  • What's the Cost of a Sales Rep Visit?
  • The Virtual Sales Rep - A Case Study


Download the full text PDF file here:
www.pharma-mkting.com/news/pmnews1303-article03.pdf

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Jose Andrade's comment, February 23, 2015 2:06 PM
I think the greatest opportunity for a pharma sales rep to succeed, is to remove the word sales from their title. They should become more of ambassadors of brand and indication. In this respect, they'd become more of a guide and a partner to the doctor than a sales influencer.
Pharma Guy's comment, February 23, 2015 2:43 PM
That role has traditionally be fulfilled by Medical Science Liaisons who are physicians or pharmacists themselves and therefore can carry on peer-to-peer communications with docs. That's the kind of background you need to "partner" with docs, otherwise docs are taking advice from unqualified people.
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2017 Medical Sales Salaries Climbed to $95,791 in 2017, Compared to $88,038 in 2016

2017 Medical Sales Salaries Climbed to $95,791 in 2017, Compared to $88,038 in 2016 | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

2017 marks the seventh year MedReps has conducted an annual medical sales rep salary report. According to the most recent research in 2017, the average medical sales rep total compensation is $147,424, with an average base of $95,791, and an average bonus of $53,405.

 

Medical sales reps know their income potential varies for several reasons. The 2017 Medical Sales Salary Report examines the following key factors that impact salaries:

 

  • Product
  • Market
  • Job title
  • Company type and size
  • Age
  • Experience
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity/race
  • Travel
  • Location

 

As medical sales reps continue their adventurous climb throughout their career, they tend to reap the rewards both financially and in terms of job satisfaction.

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Allowing Pharma Sales Reps to Discuss Off-Label Drug Use Would Make Them More Helpful, Says KevinMD

Allowing Pharma Sales Reps to Discuss Off-Label Drug Use Would Make Them More Helpful, Says KevinMD | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

In the past, pharma reps were a source of samples that I could provide to my poorer patients who could not afford their meds. This was a real value: I depended on reps to provide these medications for my patients. In the days of print-only access to journals, I may not have been as current with the medical literature. Reps would often come in and discuss breaking trial news that I had not yet had time to read about. Often they would discuss upcoming trials and plans for the future. We would have spirited “academic” debates over drugs, trial design, and outcomes or endpoints. When you were unable to attend scientific meetings, the pharma rep would often be able to summarize the latest trials after they were released.

 

Now, my institution no longer allows samples to be left, and honestly, if I need a drug rep to share the latest data with me then I am not doing my job as a physician. Online access to immediate data from trials upon their release makes keeping current much easier. Social media and other digital tools make it possible to attend national academic meetings such as the American Heart Association annual scientific session or the American College of Cardiology meetings allow everyone to be virtually present for groundbreaking presentations of late-breaking clinical trials.

 

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the people who choose to be pharma reps: Many are smart, classy, well-meaning folks. However, there is a lot wrong with the antiquated pharma rep sales model in today’s world. Modern technology and easy access to data allow physicians to keep up with the latest clinical trials. Pharmaceutical detailing by reps is not very helpful; it is scripted and based solely on what the FDA allows them to say (think on label vs. off label). Reps are not allowed to talk about upcoming trials or discuss any off-label applications.

Pharma Guy's insight:

The last sentence in this scoop suggests that the only way that sales reps will regain their influence in today’s world is if they can talk to docs about upcoming trials and off-label applications of drugs. That may soon happen. Read more about FDA and off-label communications here: http://bit.ly/offlabelscooped 

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GSK's "Ethical" Sales Model: Is It a #Pharma Oxymoron?

GSK's "Ethical" Sales Model: Is It a #Pharma Oxymoron? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

GSK’s move to a new model of customer engagement has generated a great deal of debate. Indeed, many commentators remain skeptical that this ‘ethical’ model – especially the decoupling of sales incentives from prescription volume isn’t robust enough to deliver results in the long-term.

 

A myriad of questions is being asked by onlookers: How does GSK incentivise its sales people now? How can it maintain its revenue and encourage growth? How has GSK implemented a change program on such a huge scale? In this white paper, eyeforpharma speaks to the experts, both GSK insiders and outside observers, asking (and answering) these fundamental questions and more. Most of all we ask – will GSK’s new transparent, reputation-boosting sales model be a template for the entire industry?

Pharma Guy's insight:

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Should Cities, States Require #Pharma Reps to be Specially Licensed as Part of Effort to Battle Opioid Abuse?

Should Cities, States Require #Pharma Reps to be Specially Licensed as Part of Effort to Battle Opioid Abuse? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Chicago could become one of the few cities in the nation requiring pharmaceutical sales representatives to carry a special license, a measure that Mayor Rahm Emanuel says would help fight opioid addiction.

 

An ordinance the city expects to introduce next month would require pharmaceutical reps who promote medications to doctors and other health care professionals to track and provide to the city, if requested, the number of health care professionals they've contacted, information about drugs promoted, samples provided and whether doctors were compensated for their time. The city also is considering requiring pharmaceutical reps to track which doctors they contact, and potentially supply names to the city upon request.

 

As part of the licensing requirements, sales reps also would have to get additional training on prescription abuse, ethics and marketing practices from programs certified by the city. In addition, health care professionals and patients would for the first time be able to report any deceptive and unethical behavior by the sales reps to the city.

 

The licenses likely would cost about $750 a person annually, bringing in $1 million that would support the licensing program as well as help support treatment for addiction, Morita said. When asked if the ordinance was a way for the city to make money, Morita said in an email it was about protecting Chicagoans' health and well-being.

 

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, an industry group, declined to comment on the substance of Chicago's proposal because it had not been able to review the details. But it did say in an emailed statement: "Industry interactions with health care professionals, however, are already extensively regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Patchwork local and state initiatives are likely to disrupt the existing federal regulation of important scientific information that benefits both providers and patients."

Pharma Guy's insight:

Some policy observers think the proposed ordinance would do little to reduce opioid abuse and would instead just put up barriers to entry for new pharma sales reps.

 

Michael Lucci, vice president of policy at the libertarian-oriented Illinois Policy Institute, said that this kind of occupational licensing hurts low-income or beginner salespeople who are trying to work their way up in the industry. More… http://bit.ly/2eJAEXZ

 

Also read “DUIPs (Docs Under the Influence of #Pharma) Prescribe Opioids - Sales Reps Arrested”; http://sco.lt/7grUor

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#Pharma Sales Rep Income Gap: Women = 0.86 x Men

#Pharma Sales Rep Income Gap: Women = 0.86 x Men | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Of all the sub-categories of medical sales, pharma and specialty pharma have the best balance of men and women; however, men still represent 59% of all pharma respondents, and they out earn women by 14%. That means women earn an average pharmaceutical sales salary that is just 86% of what men earn. Unlike in the overall salary report, where base salaries were more on par, even the base pharmaceutical sales salaries were significantly different between men and women. This gender inequity is largely explained by the fact that men are far more likely to hold higher paying job titles such as Sales Director, Sales VP, or Sales Manager. Just 1 in 6 Sales Directors or Sales VPs is a woman, and 1 in 7 Sales Managers. 


[I've included this chart in my Slideshare PPT: "Digital Savvy Women Pharma Pioneers"; http://bit.ly/dswpreso ]

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Is It "Hell" to be a #Pharma Sales Rep Who Doesn't "Like" Science?

Is It "Hell" to be a #Pharma Sales Rep Who Doesn't "Like" Science? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it
Does a job with a good salary, a company car, a flexible schedule, generous bonuses and no boss breathing down your neck sound like a dream come true?


The process of applying for pharmaceutical sales jobs, wrangling interviews and enduring rejections offers a taste of what the actual sales rep job will be like. Pharmaceutical companies don't look for one standard profile in their sales forces. Generally, companies require sales reps to have at least a bachelor's degree, and some prefer MBAs. Employers don't necessarily require degrees in areas such as chemistry or biology, but reps must be willing to learn — and be able to master — science. "An aptitude in science is a prerequisite," says Nahman, a former pharmacist. "If you don't like science, this job will be a living hell."

Pharma Guy's insight:


Nahman recommends scouting doctors' offices for sales reps and asking for their business cards and calling them. Apparently, "most companies offer bounties to salespeople who refer new employees." 


I learned a thing or two while observing sales reps in my doc's office. Read about that here.

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