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Posted on March 29, 2013 at 2:40 PM

I manage to get on some strange e-mail lists, partly because I used to write a regular newspaper column on medical issues, and partly because I am now identified as having something to do with Pharma. As a result I get unsolicited “cold calls” via e-mail, some of which shine a light indirectly on issues related to this blog. A recent message seems to suggest that the campaign us pharmascolds have launched is having success, making life harder for drug reps, and driving the companies to look for new ways to influence physicians.

A nice publicist wanted me to know all about Activate Networks:

This outfit will help drug marketers get more bang for the buck by mapping the local physician social network, and picking out the docs who have the most influence over their peers. These docs, the firm points out, may not themselves be the heaviest prescribers of the drug, and so might initially escape notice from the data usually generated by drug firms that focus on prescribing volume. Yet (they argue) if you go after these docs, using the methods kindly supplied for you by Activate (I assume for a hefty fee), you can get a lot more payoff from your detailing efforts, as is explained in detail:

Why bother? The e-mail lists the woes faced by today’s reps, that make it mandatory that they’d use whatever new technology they can:

The Changing Face of Pharma Detailing

Pharma companies are battled for physicians’ time:

• One out of four physicians work in a practice that refuses to see reps

• Sales reps are never seen by the doctor in 43% of calls

• Two thirds of medical schools and a quarter of private-practice physicians have limited sampling in some way

• For every 100 reps who visit a practice, 37 place their products in the office’s sample cabinet, and only 20 speak to a physician in person

Of course from my own point of view this is all good news, and signs that some progress is slowly being made.

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