Sunday, May 1, 2005

The Unwritten Rules of Drug sampling

The Unwritten Rules of Drug sampling

Drug sampling is a key element in your promoting your pharmaceutical product. Know the dos and don’ts when it comes to using this sales tactic effectively—especially in a sales environment challenged by increasing competition for doctors’ precious time. MedZilla explores how you can use drug sampling as an effective aspect of product promotions.

Marysville, WA (PRWEB) September 3, 2004

Drug sampling is an important element in maintaining the pharmaceutical representative-physician relationship. However, like everything else that the pharmaceutical sales representatives do to secure business, this too is coming under increasing scrutiny.

“Your knowledge of drug sampling etiquette will help you to get the most mileage from this acceptable “perk,”” says Frank Heasley, PhD, president and CEO of MedZilla. com, (www. medzilla. com) a leading Internet recruitment and professional community that serves biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and science.

“Drug samples are one of the few powerful reminders you can leave behind after a visit with a physician,” Dr. Heasley says. “The problem is that drug sampling is no longer an easy task. It’s getting harder and harder to get in to see physicians to get the needed signatures for samples. Some health systems and clinics are even closing their doors to reps and their samples—claiming to turn their facilities into ‘commercial-free zones.’”

A small but growing number of health care systems are turning their clinics into these commercial free zones, where they are stripping away any promotional items, including samples, that might encourage doctors to prescribe pricey brand-name drugs, according to a August 24, 2004 USA Today article.

Nevertheless, drug sampling remains among the foundations of pharmaceutical sales. John Canvin, director of compliance at Ventiv Pharma Services, Somerset, NJ, says that the aims of drug sampling include putting the drugs in the hands of practitioners so that they can give out the drugs while the information is fresh in their minds.

“The doctors then get to see in the short term whether or not what the pharmaceutical representative and company are claiming is accurate,” Canvin says.

Drug sampling gives a drug a presence in the office, so that the doctorsÂ’ colleagues have access to it. In addition, getting samples in the hands of patients helps doctors help their patients and helps ensure that patients request specific drugs.

Annoying tactics

Debbie Grosheim, office manager at East Cost Medical in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, Fla., says its one thing when representatives make their weekly drug sampling visits, get the doctorÂ’s signature and leave. ItÂ’s another when they try to take up the doctorÂ’s time with old information before getting the signature.

“In order to get the signature, all they have to do is ask the doctor for his signature. They don’t have to bring all their stuff and lay it out and take up 10 minutes of the doctor’s time that he doesn’t have,” she says.

Grosheim says itÂ’s OK for representatives to set up a time to meet with the doctor if they have something new to present: a new drug, new data or a newly approved use for drugs theyÂ’re sampling.

Respect practitionersÂ’ ways

Canvin, who says that Ventiv oversees some 2,500 pharmaceutical representatives nationally, recommends that pharmaceutical representatives become familiar with the procedures or the activities within the practitionersÂ’ office and to respect the dynamics of the office and provider.

Go to the office when itÂ’s best for the doctor and staff, according to Canvin. You should understand that there are a number of sales representatives that are going into the office and, while some offices have the policy that you can come in and wait for the doctor without making an appointment, many would rather that you make an appointment or predetermine the best times to go, according to the doctorÂ’s schedule.

Another point: “…try not to convince the practitioners of the use of certain drugs by challenging them. …these are very smart people; they’re familiar with what is going on. Present the drugs in such a way that they understand the utility—present the positives and the negatives in a balanced way and not try to oversell or overcompensate,” Canvin says.

Canvin agrees with Grosheim in that reps should not overstay their welcome or go beyond the sell, unless thereÂ’s something new to report.

“The drug comes out and it’s a gangbuster and all the practitioners want to get their hands on it as samples … to get their patients on the drug,” Canvin says. “But a year or two or three goes by and there are not new clinical indications, no new studies being brought to the practitioner’s office. The conversations become stale.”

A few more dos and donÂ’ts

Theresa Castro worked for Merck & Co for eight years as a sales representative and trainer for new hires and tenured representatives. Today she is a motivational speaker and author of The Dark Before the Dawn: 70 Secrets to Self-discovery.

Castro offers these drug sampling tips.

When you enter a doctorÂ’s waiting room and there is another representative already waiting, you should ask the other rep for permission to sample the doctor. This important protocol needs to be followed because many times doctors will get upset when they think that there are too many representatives waiting for them.

Put your samples away (if allowed by the doctorÂ’s office). There are many representatives who are lazy and leave their samples wherever. These representatives need to realize that the staff and the doctor will remember who is respectful of their space and sample closet.

DonÂ’t leave more samples than what the doctor requested. First, if you leave more samples in a place where they are not wanted then you may later find yourself in the situation that another doctor wants extra samples. Secondly, this is another way to frustrate the doctor and staff. They donÂ’t want store samples of products that they donÂ’t use or hardly use.

“You might feel compelled to focus on drug sampling with increasing competition from other representatives (sometimes from the same company) and scrutiny of sales tactics, as well as decreasing doctor availability. But being aggressive in this area is not going to increase sales, in most instances, and might hurt your ability to secure time with the doctor when you really have something new to report,” says Michele Groutage, MedZilla. com’s marketing director.

“The key is to know what to do and what not to do when it comes to drug sampling. There are some general protocols and the rest is according to what individual practitioner or facility prefers,” Groutage says.

About MedZilla. com

Established in mid 1994, MedZilla is the original web site to serve career and hiring needs for professionals and employers in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medicine, science and healthcare. MedZilla databases contain about 10,000 open positions, 13,000 resumes from candidates actively seeking new positions and 71,000 archived resumes.

Medzilla® is a Registered Trademark owned by Medzilla Inc. Copyright ©2004, MedZilla, Inc. Permission is granted to reproduce and distribute this text in its entirety, and if electronically, with a link to the URL www. medzilla. com. For permission to quote from or reproduce any portion of this message, please contact Michele Groutage, Director of Marketing and Development, MedZilla, Inc. Email: mgroutage@medzilla. com.

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