The yin and yang of Millennial doctors’ opinions on pharma


Millennial doctors are conflicted about pharma. They believe drugmakers give them helpful information, but almost two-thirds don’t trust that info. More than half call DTC advertising educational, but 81% say ads make their jobs harder because patients ask for meds they don’t need.

In its latest look at Millennial mindsets, InVentiv Health’s PR Group, GSW and Palio looked specifically at 26-to-36-year-old Millennial physicians’ thinking about healthcare and pharma.

One of the biggest insights running through the entire study is that Millennial doctors like to collaborate with peers, patients and pharma--and that presents another conundrum for drugmakers. The dwindling amount of time spent with pharma reps, so often reported in surveys, actually runs counter to what Millennial doctors say they want. Forty-one percent say they prefer in-person interaction with a sales rep over interaction with an online rep.

Travis Rooke, GSW associate director of innovation and one of the study’s authors, said even as the use and importance of digital, non-personal communications grows, pharma companies need to remember these young “collaborative clinicians” want community, interaction and two-way conversations with pharma and enabled by pharma.

“For pharma marketers, the big takeaway is that it shouldn’t just stop with non-personal communications like digital. It needs to include personal communications. We need to have collaboration and continue to have two-way conversations,” Rooke said.

Millennial physicians do have bigger trust issues when it comes to pharma. Compare the two-thirds (65%) who don’t trust pharma information to be fair and balanced, with only 48% of older physicians saying the same.

So it’s likely not surprising that Gen Y physicians say they are less influenced by pharma marketing than their non-Millennial colleagues. Only 16% find pharma materials influential when considering treatments, compared with 48% of non-Millennial docs.

Some of that mistrust may be fueled by general lowered status of the pharma industry in general

“You can start to infer that some of this is because disliking pharma has become the ‘right thing to say’ for physicians because there is a press narrative out there that creates momentum,” Rooke said. However, even taking that into account, there is room for improvement in the Millennial doctor-to-pharma relationship.

Like others in their age group, Millennial doctors want transparency and authenticity: 85% say that’s what they value most from pharma. Patient-centricity was next, followed by adherence support. Sixty percent of Millennial doctors are more likely to see a rep if they offer programs for their patients, versus just 47% of non-Millennial doctors.

The good news for pharma, as the report notes, is “with a fairly high ‘approval rating’ among millennial physicians, pharma isn’t out of the game just yet.”

- download the report

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