Report: More docs say no to pharm rep solicitations

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Between 2009 and 2010, the number of physicians willing to see pharmaceutical representatives slumped almost 20 percent. Researchers say a more systematic approach to these selling models rather than use of the standard “one-size-fits-all” approach would help improve efficiency, according to the 2010 AccessMonitor report, conducted by ZS Associates.

According to ZS Associates, the report culminates data from almost 500,000 physicians, nurse practitioners and other pharmaceutical prescribers to track trends of data calls made by nearly 41,000 pharmaceutical reps.

According to the report's results, 58 percent of prescribers were “rep-accessible,” compared to almost 71 percent who met with pharmaceutical companies in last year’s report.

Additionally, results showed that those who were deemed "rep-inaccessible"--those who saw less than 30 percent of the pharmaceutical reps that called them—rose from 6 percent to 9 percent.

This year, nearly 20 percent of prescribers noted as “rep-accessible” last year were  described as “rep-neutral,” while 11 percent of those rated as “rep-neutral” were now described as “rep-inaccessible.”

“Based on these findings, AccessMonitor concluded that more than eight million management-planned sales calls – at a cost to pharmacos of more than $1 billion per year – are nearly impossible,” the report stated.

To become more efficient, pharmaceutical companies have begun implementing a new strategy called “differential resourcing,” which is more flexible than the standard approaches and allows reps to adapt to market trends.

“Sales management should accept that you can’t reach these doctors simply by telling the reps to ‘try harder.’ Instead, managers must modify the call plan to connect best with each individual physician,” the report urged.

Use of differential resourcing assigns salespersons “to doctors in a manner that reduces sales force expenditures and unproductive time without compromising physician relations or sales,” the report stated.

According to ZS Associates, pharma companies who have unleashed differential resourcing have seen drops in sales-related costs by 20 percent and collectively, these companies have saved over $500 million per year.

If companies implement the use of this new strategy that melds with market trends, companies have the ability to save $2 billion per year, said Chris Wright, principal and leader of ZS Associates.

“For years, pharmaceutical companies thought that physician group practices followed standardized policies of refusing to meet with nearly all drug sales people,” said Aaron Barzilai, manager at ZS Associates and leader of the report.

However, he said that even practices in the most “access-challenged” states are as open to seeing pharma reps as physicians who don’t have group practices. “There is no region-wide, standardized practice,” concluded Barzilai.

ZS Associates, a global management consulting firm, said that the AccessMonitor report incorporates data from 165 pharma companies throughout the U.S.