Physicians Seek More Detailed, Comparative and Customized Information from Pharmaceutical Reps, Accenture Research Finds

NEW YORK, July 16, 2003 Primary care physicians say that customized content, clinical evidence and comparative analyses of medicines top their wish lists for visits from pharmaceutical representatives, according to an Accenture survey released today.

Nearly one-third (30 percent) of physicians surveyed said they consider pharmaceutical sales representatives important sources of information. When asked to identify top influencers on their prescribing decisions, physicians cited only peer-reviewed clinical journals (80 percent) and industry associations and meetings (34) before sales representatives (30 percent), with colleagues and the Internet rounding out the list at 27 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

“After several decades, the basic detailing model is ripe for evolution,” said David Blumberg, a partner in Accenture’s Health & Life Sciences practice. “The opportunity for the industry lies in moving beyond sales force growth and mass promotion to arming reps with tailored information for individual physicians – information that will help improve their practices and patient care.”

In fact, physicians, on average, reported that approximately one-third of sales visits are helpful, and 36 percent said that they want more medical information, including: current, comparative or clinical data and analyses that are relevant to their practices, as well as objective sources of information on usage and side effects.

“There is an untapped opportunity for differentiation,” said Blumberg. “While sales reps are a valuable resource, pharmaceutical industry leaders are realizing that the best way to combat diminishing returns from the current sales model is by individualizing education and service to each medical professional.”

Not surprisingly, almost half of physicians (48 percent) cited their time and availability as the factor that most influences their willingness to meet with pharmaceutical sales representatives. Other factors include free samples (14 percent), existing relationship with the representative (14 percent), interest in new products (10 percent) and the need for product-specific information (8 percent).

According to Blumberg, some industry leaders are beginning to adopt an approach called “closed loop promotion,” which allows sales representatives to present and discuss customized education and information based on ongoing feedback from physician interactions. New software on tablet-sized computers allows companies to regularly update visual aids, clinical reprints, opinion leader videos, case studies and physician surveys. Representatives can use these in the way that best supports an individual physician’s needs, while meeting regulatory standards. Companies piloting closed loop promotion are increasing representatives’ time with physicians from 90 seconds to five minutes. Accenture estimates that, with the greater access and educational value of these new approaches, a pharmaceutical company can increase sales of a $500 million product by up to 15 percent, while lowering marketing costs and increasing patient access to new medicines.

To explore the relationship between pharmaceutical sales representatives and primary care physicians, Accenture sponsored a survey that entailed conducting telephone interviews with 100 primary care physicians in the United States in June 2003.

About Accenture
Accenture is a global management consulting and technology services company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them realize their visions and create tangible value. With deep industry expertise, broad global resources and proven experience in consulting and outsourcing, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills, alliances and technologies. With more than 80,000 people in 47 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$11.6 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2002. Its home page is


Laura Ryan

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