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All doctors think they are smart enough not to be swayed by sweet-talking pharm reps but the research supports the opposite: we are far more likely to prescribe something when a salesperson drops by to schmooze and give out samples and (best yet) something to eat. As a consequence I try to be vigilant towards these devious drug dealers. Most of the time I do a good job (I hope) sticking to evidence-based and science-supported statistics. The representatives who drop in at the office have learned not to talk rubbish or push things. There is one exception. A particular pharmaceutical representative is being especially insatiable in her pursuit to get me to make her product my number one prescribed medication. Unfortunately the prescription is very expensive, seldom covered, and causes side effects (despite her insisting it does not). There are cheaper alternatives that do just as good so why use it? Brand name medications are more expensive than generic meds; patients often complain these are not affordable.

Perhaps she is under pressure from her bosses to produce sales. Maybe it’s a personal matter; she sees me as a challenge like the Duke of Edinburgh award. I have to get on board and prescribe it. Whatever her motives she pops in a lot like a nefarious jack-in-the-box to inquire if I am using her product.

So far her means of persuasion have fallen flat. Someone didn’t do her homework that feminine charms and flattery may work well for on my colleagues but not with Urs Truly. The standard graphs and charts she presents I see right through (all of them produced by the same folks who make the drug). Poor reasoning and straw man arguments make my eyes cross. Her point ‘so many others use it as their main drug” does not move me onto the bandwagon.

Sorry lady but your product just isn’t my favorite. It isn’t as clean as you report and ny patients find it ‘too expensive”* It’s not a bad drug it’s just at the end of the line of my choices.

The Wonder Receptionist informs me said rep is bringing to her next luncheon** a physician to talk to me about the medication. The manifest reason is for me to ask a colleague any questions off-label something she is not allowed to do. Fair enough. The real reason to bring in Dr. Bigwig is for me to be dazzled so I too will want to be just like Dr. Bigwig and be swell too via using the product.

I could ask the Boss-man and Boss-lady to tell her and her ilk to go away but The Other Doctor likes having them in. I like the samples they provide; I use these for patients who can’t afford “X” when “X” is the only thing that works for them.

Salespeople come and go quickly as they are frequently sacked or reassigned to other areas. Ms. Persistence is more likely to be transferred than succeed. Perhaps someone higher up the food chain will connect the dots and replace her with a big burly bear-type salesman. I hope I am up to the challenge.


*In reply she asked me to ‘define expensive”. I explained when my patient says their medication is too expensive for them they want something cheaper I take this at face value and not argue.

**Poor thing. She always brings in the same food, not my favorite. If she brought in something better / something I liked perhaps her sales would go up?

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July 2019

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018