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Concerns regarding the inability of pharmaceutical company representatives to interact with doctors face-to-face in a clinical setting during the pandemic have been raised by members of the industry.
The industry “looks forward” to the return of direct interaction between sales teams and healthcare professionals, a spokesperson for the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) told the Medical Independent last month.
“The situation is being kept under review by individual companies and will be guided by public health advice.”
Earlier this summer, during a Future Health Summit ‘Leadership Series’ webinar, a number of pharmaceutical representatives raised concerns over their inability to engage with doctors in a clinical setting during the pandemic.
Prof Samuel McConkey, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine, RCSI, who was speaking at the webinar, agreed that this was a challenge. Prof McConkey said it was his understanding that the pharmaceutical industry was having a larger financial turnover during the current pandemic. However, he believed there was an impact on the interaction between doctors and industry sales representatives that could become increasingly problematic into the future.
“We have all been using pharma and buying pharma and spending money, and maybe even stockpiling pharma… pharma is a really important part of our economy, and the pharma industry has seemed to not just survive, but done really well [during the pandemic],” said Prof McConkey.
“But as for the sales folk, I just don’t know. Engagement becomes very important for new products. When there is a new [product] launch… that does involve some education and communication.”
He said that in the previous three months, doctors had not “been dealing with much in the way of new products; we are dealing with the crisis and access to old products. So I don’t know, it’s a difficult one, because I don’t really want to have a Zoom call with a sales rep.”
Prof McConkey said time constraints could make such online sales calls unattractive to doctors.