Meetings offer reps a shot at 'no-see' docs: survey

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While the number of physicians open to pharmaceutical sales calls is shrinking, a new survey suggests some venues are more hospitable to industry than others.

The survey found that nearly three-quarters of doctors who restrict pharma sales reps in their practices chose to interact with them while at a live educational event.

“It really is about personal choice,” said Sam Bishop, director of research for Pri-Med, which canvassed 1,100 physicians at seven of its own live medical-educational meetings held in different regions of the country. “[The physicians] have personally chosen to come to this event. If industry is there, the majority will choose to opt in. If they are in their practice, working with patients, struggling through the day, typically they don't want to be intruded on.”

The survey classified doctors according to their level of accessibility to speaking with reps in-office or at a dinner program, and whether their practice imposes limits on industry visits. Among those reporting the least level of accessibility—the so-called no-see category—60% said they attend sponsored group information sessions at live events, also known as theater presentations. Another 49% said they had met with a rep during a direct interaction called a product forum.

“What's interesting was that, even asking no-see doctors, while at an event [and] having an opportunity to interact with industry via theater or booth reps, 71% choose to interact with those industry touch points,” said Bishop. “It's about the right location and the right timing.”

A good proportion of no-see doctors also say they will incorporate what they hear from industry into their decision-making—40% from a theater presentation, 19% from a booth interaction.

The survey suggests that physicians' decreasing level of accessibility, much of which revolves around practice restrictions, may not be systemic to all venues in which interaction could occur.

It follows an earlier study from ZS Associates' AccessMonitor report showing no-see doctors have risen to 9% of the total, up from 6% last year—a 50% increase—and that other prescribers are becoming more selective about participating in sales calls.

Bishop added that no-see doctors tend to skew younger, work in large office-based practices and are usually internal medicine specialists; fully accessible physicians tend to be older and work in smaller practices.
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