Physician Views: Physicians reiterate that engagement with pharma remains a low priority at present, majority anticipate COVID-19 pandemic will disrupt patient care and medication use

Of 1062 physicians we snap-polled across the US, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK, approximately three quarters of all respondents said their management of both existing and potentially new patients has been significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Feedback was similar from physicians who are based in the US (n=430) or one of the five major European markets (n=632).

Furthermore, 86% of all physicians who were polled expect this disruption to have some impact on the use of medicines that their patients are typically treated with, with just over a third of respondents describing the possible impact as 'significant.'

Physicians were asked to take into account potential patient non-adherence due to lower disease severity and cases where treatment regimens are changed on safety grounds, including instances where a patient is receiving the same medication or type of treatment, but now in a non-hospital setting.

Looking more closely, physicians based in the five key European markets anticipate a greater impact on their prescribed medicine use as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic versus their counterparts in the US.

Just 10% of European respondents expect there to be no impact on preferred medicine use among the patients under their care and 41% think the impact will be 'significant.'

By comparison, a fifth of US physicians anticipate that medicine use among their patients will be unaffected and just over a quarter of US respondents expect any impact to be 'significant.'


Fifty-three (53) percent of respondents said they will make it a low priority to engage with representatives from the pharmaceutical industry – using other means of communication in the absence of face-to-face meetings – during the COVID-19 pandemic. This echoes feedback from a smaller snap-poll we ran in late March (see Physician Views: Pharma sales reps may struggle to engage with doctors due to COVID-19 pandemic, poll suggests).

This sentiment is more pronounced among US physicians, 70% of whom said interactions with the pharma industry will be a low priority.

Other FirstWord research indicates that declining patient loads have become a frequent reflection of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare provision, meaning that physicians are also seeing a smaller proportion of their patients, on a less frequent basis, face-to-face.

As remote consultations with patients become more commonplace as a result, 38% of all physicians polled said they would not be comfortable prescribing medications to new patients under their care who they were yet to meet face-to-face.

Half of all respondents said they are moderately comfortable prescribing medications to new patients on a 'remote' basis, but just 12% described themselves as being very comfortable with this practice, with similar levels of sentiment shared by physicians from the US and Europe.

Similarly, physicians expect the COVID-19 pandemic to have a pronounced effect in limiting new therapy starts and treatment switches among patients already under their care.

Nearly half of all physicians from Europe who were polled anticipate the impact on new therapy starts and treatment switches will be 'significant' and 43% 'moderate.' Just 8% think these dynamics will be unaffected in the current circumstances.

Their counterparts in the US appear to be slightly more comfortable with the idea of managing treatment options for existing patients despite current logistical limitations enforced by the pandemic, though only 7% of US physicians anticipate new therapy starts and treatment switches to be unaffected overall.

On a more positive note, fewer US respondents – 36% - anticipate a 'significant' impact on these dynamics.

Note: Tomorrow we will be publishing more detailed results and analysis from this poll showing responses by 13 physician specialties for FirstWord Pharma PLUS subscribers to read.  

To read more Physician Views Poll Results articles, click here.