Study Finds Restricted Access to Sales Reps Impedes Physician Knowledge of New Safety Information

Study Finds Restricted Access to Sales Reps Impedes Physician Knowledge of New Safety Information

06.01.12 | By Kate Connors

American Society of HypertensionYesterday, someone brought to my attention a really interesting study in The Journal of Clinical Hypertension. It evaluated how much the prescribing decisions of physicians are influenced by the information provided to them by biopharmaceutical company sales representatives.

I'll spare you the complexities of the study's methods and get to the findings: that "limiting access to pharmaceutical representatives can have the unintended effect of reducing appropriate responses to negative information about drugs just as much as responses to positive information."

How so? The authors found that physicians with the most restricted access to sales reps had the lowest adoption of a new diabetes therapy "and took 1.4 and 4.6 times longer to adopt [that new medicine] than physicians in the low- and medium-access restriction categories, respectively."

In other words, not as many patients who might have benefited from this new medicine were not able to get a prescription for it from their physician.

Meanwhile, the authors found that physicians with very low access to sales reps were 4.0 times slower to reduce their use of a medicine with a new black box safety warning. Similarly, there was "significantly less response in terms of changing prescribing" regarding a medicine with negative outcomes in a clinical trial among physicians with restricted access.

We have often discussed how sales reps are just one of many sources of information for physicians, but still they are an important source. This study certainly serves to hammer home the point that not only does the information they provide teach physicians about new medicines, it also helps them keep their patients safer.

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