Hey doc, what's on the menu when pharma comes calling? Hint: It's not health food

Courtesy of pointnshoot, Creative Commons CC-BY SA 2.0

When pharma reps order in lunch or dinner for events at doctors' offices, they come with a big appetite. The spread is likely to include burgers and fries, but pizza won't even make it to the table.

That's the word from catering marketplace ezCater, which analyzed pharma reps' orders and compared them with other industries. Pharma reps request three times more American cuisine than the national average. Reps crave chicken wings, French fries and tacos, with Southern, American and Mexican food rounding out the industry's list of top three cuisines.

Pharma often passes on lo mein and deep-dish, with Asian food and pizza being the least popular orders among reps. Pharma reps are 54% less likely to order in pizza than other industries. Reps also steer clear of curry chicken or dairy-free options, with less than 1% ordering spicy entrees or vegan fare.

Pharma doesn't skimp when it comes to sides. Rep often order beverages to go along with the main course but are more than 51% less likely to order soda, perhaps mindful of its bad health rep. But that doesn't mean sugar's off the menu: Reps are likely to include desserts such as ice cream and cupcakes in their orders.

And pharma reps are last-minute shoppers. More than half of their orders are placed within one day of an event, according to ezCater, resulting in some ultrafast turnaround times.

The orders will continue rolling in as pharma reps continue to court docs face-to-face. Even though the industry is sinking money into other channels including digital, many companies and physicians say that "nothing is as good as a rep for getting the message across" when providing info about a drug, Dan Gilman, president and founder of RxVantage, told FiercePharmaMarketing last year.

- here's ezCater's blog post