Here's how often doctors get hit up by drug companies

In the inboxes and voicemail messages of doctors across the US are messages from pharmaceutical companies looking to make a connection and market their drugs.

A recent report by sales and marketing consulting firm ZS Associates found that, on average, doctors get contacted by employees in the pharmaceutical industry an estimated 7.5 times a day, including weekends and holidays. This number was based on a sample of 30,000 doctors.

And, for health care professionals in specialty areas, that number could be more than twice that, as competing companies duke it out to get their medication prescribed to the most patients.

The report found that all these efforts, however, weren’t always successful at getting prescribers’ attention. For the most part, the report found, it didn’t matter how the physician was contacted — whether it was by mail, email, or phone — all of them hit a quick saturation point at which the physicians stopped opening the messages under the assumption that it would be more of the same.

Of course, there are a number of ways pharmaceutical companies try to get their drug to become the next Advil or Viagra, and some are more impactful than others, the report found. Apart from the ads you see all over TV suggesting that you “talk to your doctor about if a particular medication is right for you,” pharmaceutical marketers tend to have the most impact if they make face-to-face contact with a prescribing physician. That’s why in 2012, pharmaceutical companies spent a whopping $US20.7 billion on face-to-face sales, promotional events, and samples, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

So, to make sure the company’s marketers aren’t reaching out to the same doctors and overloading them, the ZS Associates report recommends that drug companies have what they call an “orchestrator rep” to help doctors achieve a manageable inbox.

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