Monday, February 26, 2007

Hey Pfired drug reps - how about a spot of "counter-detailing"?

Drug companies flood doctors' offices with attractive salespeople whose mission is to boost the number of prescriptions written for their products. But some say that the tactics used by the representatives, known as detailers, wrongly hype expensive new drugs when older, cheaper treatments work just as well.

To combat the sales pitches, critics are now employing the same marketing methods that drug companies use to sell doctors on new products.

The $1 million Independent Drug Information Service project, supported by the Department of Aging of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and run by Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, is sending out its own representatives, some of them former drug company detailers.

These consultants -- or counter-detailers, as they are called -- inform doctors about which drugs work best. Sometimes that means recommending older, less expensive treatments. Their messages are driven by hard science, backers of the service say , not pharmaceutical company earnings reports.

"I feel that that is a key, missing piece in the healthcare system," said Dr. Jerry Avorn (pic), a Harvard Medical School professor who has been the driving force behind the drug information project.

Over the past year, a team that has grown to 10 consultants has logged roughly 1,200 visits to about 500 Pennsylvania practitioners, mostly doctors. Another half-dozen internists and Harvard instructors provide talking points, "a boiled-down version of what the practicing doc needs to know tomorrow morning when his patients come in to see him," Avorn said.

Later this year, the program could expand to other states.

"We have received inquiries from other states that are intrigued by what we're doing in Pennsylvania and want to know about whether we ought to be working with them," Avorn said.

Currently, doctors too pressed for time to read what Avorn called inscrutable drug labels or arcane journal articles often bone up on the latest clinical trials during visits by sales representatives with a vested interest in selling particular drugs, he said. "Doctors need access to information that is not oriented around selling a product."

More at The Boston Globe

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Finally, there are few things happening to counter the big pharma's formidable marketing machine. Yes it is a very small and modest begining but it is the begining in the right direction. Is it going to grow and dos it have a chance? Yes it can grow as the big pharma grew from the modest, honest and ethical beginings into big pharma of today. Yes it has a chance for there is a great need for this kind of counterdetail activity. Of course, do not expect that the big pharma is just going to let it go without their own counteractivity. They are ready and willing to do anything to limit or eliminate any activity that is even faintly posing any threat to their MO. It will be interesting to watch at what stage they start an active counter-activity and you can be sure it will be a "team" effort by all big pharma cos. They may pretend that they are competitors but in reality they are all in it together, just like big happy family.
One thing, do not give up on this wonderful idea and lets spread it all over US and Canada. It is even more important in Canada where our public health care system is subjected to the same formidable everything goes promotion and we don't have any protection like you do in USA in your strong FCA and other laws.