How doctors prefer to engage with pharma: part three

 In part of three of this series, Hannah Blake interviews an oncologist (who will be referred to as Doctor C) about his thoughts on the interaction between physicians and pharma.

(Continued from “How doctors prefer to engage with pharma: part two“)

In order to get honest feedback, we shall be keeping the doctors anonymous.

Interview summary

HB: What information do you most need regularly from the pharma industry?

DC: I mostly need data about the drugs, so information on any trials they have done, and the drug’s toxicity profile.

HB: How would you like this information to be shared with you?

DC: I don’t mind the way they do it now. They come now and again, present the data to us and then follow it up with emails or paper-based information. We are occasionally invited to the meeting where we listen to people talking about the drugs and then discussing them.

HB: Conversely, how do you want to be able to feedback to pharma or ask ad hoc questions?

DC: Well I personally don’t mind picking up the phone and ringing them or dropping a quick email asking the question.


“…there is something about human-to-human interaction…”


HB:  You are a member of an online professional network for doctors – do you feel this adds value?

DC: Yes it certainly does.

HB: In what way?

DC: There are some useful articles and news items published. Not just pharma, but other issues I can discuss on So I find it very useful.

HB: Do you think pharma should be trying to build its own online doctor communities, and if so why?

DC: I wouldn’t be favour of it, because I think these things should be left separately.  If I am discussing something with a colleague, I don’t want pharma to be involved in it or watching it or be influencing it.  Leave these two issues separate.

HB: In the digital age, do you think that we still need pharma sales reps?

DC: I think we do, call me old fashioned but we do. As I said, emails are great, and we can get things instantly, but then there is something about human–to-human interaction.  You can ask questions, they can understand your questions, sometimes things are not very clear digitally and you are just backwards and forwards.  Sometimes it just causes more confusion than answers the question.

HB: Finally, if you could completely redesign the way the doctors and the pharma industry interact what would this look like?

DC: First of all I would say the interaction should be more honest and open, so pharma shouldn’t just consider increasing the sale, which I must admit most of them don’t, because they are there for a long-term relationship. It should be more objective and there should be more opportunities for pharmaceutical contacts other than the reps to come in and see individual doctors.


“…the interaction should be more honest and open…”


There should be a group meeting where everybody has the opportunity to come, listen to them, and ask them questions, feed them back. So instead of a single rep coming and taking 15/20 minutes of your time, perhaps if you gave half an hour once every month to a company then they could be a bit more prepared and a bit more focused, and more objective, and tell us what the products are, why we should prescribe them. And then they can use the opportunity to listen to us as well about why we are not using that particular product.

The next interview in this series will be published can be viewed here.




About the interviewee:

Doctor C is a clinical oncologist who specialises in breast cancers and urological cancers.

This article was coordinated by, the UK’s largest professional network of doctors. Available to UK-registered doctors in primary and secondary care, is an effective digital channel and a trusted source of medical education, research and communication. It is used by approximately 40,000 doctors every day.

In the digital age, do you think that we still need pharma sales reps?