Spotlight On: Physicians encourage pharma to maintain their primary research efforts despite the COVID-19 pandemic

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·       Ninety-one (91) percent of 1587 physicians said that it is appropriate for them to continue receiving and participating in market research surveys at the moment

·       Ninety-three (93) percent said receiving an invitation to participate in a pharmaceutical manufacturer-sponsored research survey would have a neutral or positive impact on their opinion of that company

Feedback from a poll of 1587 physicians (from 13 countries and comprising multiple specialities) run by MedeField, indicates that an overwhelming majority of the medical community believe it is appropriate for the pharmaceutical industry to maintain primary market research, despite the global spread of COVID-19.

Ninety-one (91) percent of all physicians polled said that it is appropriate for them to continue receiving and participating in market research surveys at the moment.


Respondents from the US, Germany, China, Italy, France and the UK were most effusive about this, as were rheumatologists (97%), dermatologists (94%), gastroenterologists (94%), haematologists (93%) and oncologists (92%).

Qualitative feedback from physicians indicates that the need for market research remains an important factor in shaping the current and future treatment of patients under their care. 

Some respondents said that taking part in market research surveys provides a sense of normality against the backdrop of the COVID-19 outbreak, while physicians in many specialty areas have additional time on their hands as they are currently seeing fewer patients than normal (see below). Others suggest that regardless of the current situation, it is important that they share their knowledge and experience.

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Ninety-three (93) percent of all physicians polled said that receiving an invitation to participate in a pharmaceutical manufacturer-sponsored research survey would have a neutral or positive impact on their perception of that company.

Physicians believe that the pharmaceutical industry has an important role to play during the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily by providing information and support at this challenging time.


Over the two weeks prior to being polled (fieldwork was conducted via a 2 minute online survey between March 19-25), 56% of physicians had seen their patient load decrease in number, 24% had experienced no change to patient load and 19% experienced an increase in patient load. More physicians in Brazil, Germany, the US, Italy and China witnessed patient load decreases during this period.


On average, those physicians across all markets who reported a patient load decrease said that they had seen 46% fewer patients, with respondents from the Netherlands estimating an average patient load reduction of 64% at the top end of the scale, down to an average reduction of 17% among Japanese physicians at the bottom end of the scale.

Feedback would indicate that those physicians not on the front-lines of the COVID-19 pandemic still believe it appropriate and welcome the opportunity to partake in market research surveys. With many physicians experiencing a reduction in patient load this may, however, require researchers to evaluate screening questions and what can be achieved with certain methodologies such as prospective patient record studies.

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