Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in a very long while; I met with a pharmaceutical representative. He was eager to see me, so I decided what the hell, why not. He represents a new Rx now on the market. It is indicated for the treatment of schizophrenia. I was intrigued to hear the sales pitch and the alleged differences/improvements of this new medicine?* The Rx sounds like ‘more of the same’ viz. a slight variation on the Rx already available. It is like having another ‘new’ cola product, when you already have Coca-cola, Pepsi-cola, Tab, and RC. He was quite jovial; pharmaceutical representatives are like that.
I suppose I am not a typical doctor that I don’t see pharmaceutical representatives. “Pharm reps” are like car salesmen. They want to sell me vehicles I already have or I don’t want. Another reason I don’t see them is I don’t have the time. My days are already way too full to stop everything to gab.
They would deny it, but doctors are greatly influenced in what they prescribe by sales gimmicks and free lunches. After all, they are human too and advertising ‘works’. I pride myself I keep on top of the literature, so I don’t need pharm reps for education. What I really want to learn is off-label uses of their medicines. Alas, they aren’t allowed to tell me anything other than the ‘pitch’.
Overall my patients are pleased I don’t see pharm reps. They feel I am not in cahoots with the drug industry (true) and I am not going to give them Rx based on what I saw heard this morning from a rep (also true). However, patients are dismayed I ‘don’t have samples’ to try prior to filling a prescription. Many want me to supply samples not as starter kits but for maintenance, as their Rx are costly. I educate we can’t have it both ways. I don’t get wined and dined and they don’t get samples.
I will be intrigued to see how much the pharmacy industry is involved in nowadays conventions. Usually they supply free lectures, free meals, free credits, and lots of pads, pens, bags, nibbles etc. Perhaps the bad PR of Medicine/Drug Industry now keep perks and freebies to a minimal.
So I don’t see reps. I buy my own pens and post-its. I tote my lunch. And I prescribe what I feel is logical. I am proud of this.
*Turns out, not much.