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Is a fee based appointment plan a reasonable strategy?
In the September/October issue, PharmaVOICE asked readers to respond to a recent program being implemented by a Cincinnatibased physician group. Queen City Physicians group created a separate, limited liability corporation to schedule 10 minute appointments between pharmaceutical representatives and doctors at $65 a visit. PharmaVOICE asked:
“Is a feebased appointment plan a reasonable strategy? Will pay for appointment scenarios become the norm? Does this strategy devalue the physicianrep relationship?” In response, the industry resoundingly discounted feebased appointments.
The physician rep dialog is more than just selling. Research clearly shows that physicians get the predominance of their drug information from detailing. This is especially true of new compounds, new indications, new studies and new dosage forms. This scheme smacks of payola. If these physicians are concerned about lunches, etc. the power of the boycott is paramount. They should schedule free visits in the same manner as they are proposing for a fee. This would help patients more.
Jim Clifford PRESIDENT, ADIENT COCHAIRMAN, COMMONHEALTH
Earlier in my career, I was a sales representative for Roche Laboratories for five years — two years in a territory calling on officebased physicians and three in the hospital setting. I believe that physicians were willing to see me because I provided value. I shared new clinical information with them, I brought patient education materials to help their patients understand and comply with their therapy, and I gave samples and/or stock bottles to help patients begin new therapy at no cost to see if they tolerated the products before purchasing a prescription. I believe this is the value that physicians seek in seeing representatives. If they are planning to see representatives as a revenuegenerating operation, I believe they should refocus and instead try to grow their practices to see more patients.
Bruce Epstein EVP, GENERAL MANAGER NOESIS HEALTHCARE INTERACTIONS
Having discussed this with several clients when we first heard about it, the general feeling is this is blackmail. It will quickly escalate to the biggest brands being the only ones that can afford this, probably resulting in attempts to outbid each other. Valuable information from myriad smaller brands/companies will be unavailable in a dialogue situation. It has little to do with the organizational issues around rep calls in a doctor’s office and everything to do with gouging the big pharmaceutical com panies.
David Chapman PRESIDENT THOMAS FERGUSON ASSOCIATES
We are totally against this and think this is unethical. Our company will not participate. We are aware of this group. Do they want us to charge them for the samples we give them that they give out to their patients?
Dave Meek JANSSEN PHARMACEUTICAL
I find the entire concept despicable. Sales consultants are not only providing valuable information to physicians but providing resources to the physicians’ patients (free samples, patient education materials, compliance programs). The Queen City Physicians group should be reported to the board for extortion! In my opinion, they are trying to get away with more than just a free meal. I first started my career as a sales consultant years ago. This movement would have certainly deterred me from entering the field. It is degrading to a salesforce. Maria Forrest We have already paid fees to these doctors, someone should remind them of the following: Without the phar maceutical companies, physicians would have NO medical meetings. Without the pharma ceutical companies, they would have little if any free continuing educa tion programs. Without the pharmaceutical companies, they would not have the $100 millions of samples which they give to their patients and take credit for. Without pharmaceutical companies, they would have nothing to write on or write with. Without the pharmaceutical companies, they would not have anything to eat — since their office staff is directed to require food with every appointment. Without the pharmaceutical companies, they would not have the patient education materials — to free up their valuable time. Without the pharmaceutical companies, who would buy all of the teaching chairs to educate these people? Without the pharmaceutical companies, physicians would have few if any publications to educate themselves with. Without the pharmaceutical companies, they would still be medicine men selling potions off the back of horsedrawn wagons. Without pharmaceutical companies, who would support all of the clinical trials that the docs make there names on, as well as money? Lastly and surely not the end to this list, how about the trips to the ski countries, to the islands, and the honoraria paid by the phar maceutical companies? I think we have already paid our appoint ment fees. If I was running the salesforce I would make sure that none of these docs were called on again. Ed Goble CHAIRMAN, CEO, FOUNDER GOBLE & ASSOCIATES INC.