If reps can't get in doctors' front doors, try alternate routes

Here are some stats that pharma sales reps are all too familiar with--but might be surprising to those who aren't tasked with knocking on doctors' doors. According to a new study from CMI/Compas, fully half of physicians restrict visits from reps in one way or another. And the doctors reps want to see most--including oncologists and internists--are least likely to prefer a human face over other kinds of communication.

But there's some good news for reps here, too. The CMI/Compas study found that doctors do want information from drugmakers, whether from reps, or through e-detailing, email, direct mail and the like. And when it comes to information on brand-new drugs, doctors--even some oncologists--do like to talk with reps. Half of cancer docs said they'd chat about new products with reps, while 47% of them flagged email as a preference. 

As other surveys have shown, oncologists are the most restrictive specialists, with only 19% allowing reps in the door without restrictions. On the other side of the coin, 20% won't see reps at all, with the 40% in the middle either requiring appointments or limiting visits to particular hours of the day or week.

If on-the-ground anecdotes are any guide, appointments and visiting hours mean few reps are able to get in the door at all. And that's in a specialty where reps are under pressure to promote a growing number of new drugs. So, how are pharma companies to get the word out on the products they're banking on for growth? About two-thirds of oncologists said they like alternatives to living, breathing reps--with email, direct mail, and peer-to-peer programs being their favorites.

Primary care doctors put fewer restrictions on the reps they'll admit, but they're less accessible overall--with 24% of family practitioners and pediatricians barring the door, along with 21% of internists. And internists are most likely to prefer other types of detailing; 78% of them say they'd prefer fax, mail, email and so on, and only 67% like in-person visits.

And which specialists are most likely to want a face-to-face meeting? Endocrinologists, urologists, neurologists and cardiologists were least likely to keep reps out of their offices, and more likely to say they like to meet with sales folks. In fact, 86% of urologists said they like to get info from reps, compared with 38% who like other forms of communication.

- get the CMI/Compas report

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