Doctors’ views on pharma: part five

Hannah Blake interviews Doctor E

Here is the fifth and final anonymous interview with a healthcare professional for our series looking at how doctors typically engage with pharma.

(Continued fromDoctors’ views on pharma: part four”)

To coincide with our medical communications focus month, pharmaphorum speaks with five healthcare professionals to find out how they typically engage with pharma and their thoughts on how this could be improved in the future.

Our fifth and final interviewee is a male GP, who graduated in 2004. His seniority is as a General Practice Partner / Principal. He will be known as Doctor E for the purpose of this article, so as to keep his views anonymous.

In this article, Doctor E discusses a recent example of engagement between himself and pharma, when he was invited to an educational event about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Read our interview summary to find out how he got on…

Interview summary

HB: How do you typically engage with pharma companies?

DE: Usually face-to-face, typically when they’re at stands at large meetings. Sometimes, although less frequently, through online modules or online courses, but it does tend to be face-to-face these days.

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“They didn’t just talk about the role of their product, they were talking about COPD management in a more general and balanced way…”

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HB: Based on your experience, can you describe a really good interaction you’ve had with pharma?

DE: Yes, one fairly recent one, although perhaps not an entirely typical one, was at the recent local primary care forum. This is where the practice and the local PCT will have a half-day closure and all the GPs attend for an educational event. One of the talks was by a drug rep and they were talking about a respiratory educational exercise that they had undertaken in one of the other local PCTs, whereby they had provided education and support to each of the practices managing COPD, going through all the patients, seeing those that needed review, training up practice nurses, and even sending some of them on more advanced courses. They were able to present some endpoint data in terms of reduction in hospital admissions, decreased length of stay etc. They did present this to us in what I would consider a balanced way – they did talk about the fact there are increased prescribing costs associated with it, but obviously decreased costs overall in terms of the overall health economy. They didn’t just talk about the role of their product, they were talking about COPD management in a more general and balanced way, and therefore I didn’t feel they were particularly pushing one particular product.

HB: What common characteristics define the pharma representatives with whom you typically have good interactions with?

DE: Generally speaking those that are concise, obviously given their time pressures that we have in general practice. Also, those that are clear in what they are presenting and that are honest and balanced in what information they give, and let us know if they have any shortcomings with their product or their knowledge of it, for example the question they have difficulty in answering.

HB: Would you value details and data from pharma around late stage trials activities and the new drugs pipeline?

DE: Yes, I think that would be of use, as it is getting towards a stage of completion of trials, and when it is likely that a new product will emerge it’s then useful to at least be aware of what’s coming out, particularly if you have patients for whom you struggle to manage their condition. If you’re aware there is something new coming out it can be a positive for both the patient and the doctor treating, so he may have a possible new treatment available.

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“You do have to be a bit aware to how data is being presented…”

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HB: How would you like to receive this information, through what channels?

DE: It would probably be best by some online or email based communication I would suspect.

HB: From a trust perspective do you think that pharma companies supply information in a transparent way?

DE: Usually yes. You do have to be a bit aware to how data is being presented, looking at scales of graphs for example and taking into account whether reduction is relative or absolute reduction, also be looking at what treatments are being compared. But generally speaking, I think that they are fairly transparent and will increasingly acknowledge where the role of their particular product in terms of how it is in the guidelines etc.

HB: Other than drug information, what else is or could be provided by pharma companies to support your work or create better interactions?

DE: I think that the example mentioned earlier about the work on COPD and the training education that was done was a real positive, and similar projects would probably be of benefit as well. So the indication and training to support and optimise chronic disease management is probably what we’re saying there.

HB: What one thing could pharma companies provide you with through your engagement with them that would be most useful in the future?

DE: A summary of where their product fits in with current treatment or possibly some patient leaflets or self-help guides that could be given to patients at consultation to help promote self-management of their condition, something on those lines would be most useful.

HB: Finally, do you think that techniques, such as tele-reach detailing and use of iPads and calls, add value to your knowledge and interaction with pharma?

DE: I prefer face–to-face contact rather than contact through Skype or similar virtual means. I find that I get more out of direct contact. I think for the quarters or case studies that type of communication works well, but for a meaningful one time discussion, face-to-face is what I would prefer.

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About the interviewee:

Doctor E is a male GP, who graduated in 2004. His seniority is as a General Practice Partner / Principal.

This article was co-ordinated by Doctors.net.uk, the UK’s largest and most active online professional network of doctors. Available to UK-GMC registered doctors in primary and secondary care, Doctors.net.uk has over 197,000 members and is an effective digital channel and a trusted and independent source of medical education, research and communication. It is used by approximately over 43,000 doctors every day, of which, over 10,000 are GPs.

Do modern technologies add value to a doctor’s knowledge and interaction with pharma?