Pharma sales to physicians: emotions beat evidence
So much for peer-reviewed journal articles. According to the results of the national Physician Engagement study by PeopleMetrics Rx, "emotional components such as friendship with the reps are the strongest indicators of fully engaged physicians." In this context, the phrase "fully engaged" is one that means "very likely to prescribe."
The study included pharma companies AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Janssen, Eli Lilly and Pfizer and included 500 psychiatrists and primary care physicians who regularly prescribe atypical antipsychotic medications.
The study identified physicians as "fully engaged," "engaged," "on the fence," and "disengaged."
While over half of physicians were "on the fence," the report suggested that sales representatives "develop personal relationships with their physicians to achieve the highest levels of engagement," stating further that relationship building "has a positive impact on the duration and frequency of meetings and physician prescribing patterns."
A spokesperson for the company suggested that drug companies use the information on physician engagement as an alternative to traditional sales force effectiveness evaluations to truly influence physician prescribing patterns. However, most would say sticking to safety and efficacy studies rather than relying on emotional sales strategies is a more ethical option.