Feedback from a survey of 1165 physicians fielded by Medefield across 10 international markets (between May 20 and June 5) shows that only 20% of respondents had interacted face-to-face with a pharmaceutical company employee in their clinic or office during the prior week. Furthermore, only 10% of physicians had met with a pharmaceutical company representative in hospital.
These data suggest that as social distancing measures implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are eased, the pharmaceutical industry could face a prolonged process to re-engage with physicians.
Results from the survey show that respondents from all countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the US) interacted on average with 0.5 industry representatives face-to-face in a clinic or office setting over the previous week. This average rate of interaction dropped to 0.2 meetings per respondent in the hospital setting.
Physicians said they had spoken to an average of 2.5 people employed by a pharmaceutical company by telephone over the past week, and had typically interacted with 1.5 people by video call or video conferencing. Email and WhatsApp were most frequently cited other channels of communication.
Taking face-to-face meetings and all other channels of communication into account, physicians said that on average they had spoken to 4.5 people employed by pharmaceutical manufacturers doing the previous week.
Data show that in the current climate physicians are more than three-times more likely to interact (face-to-face or by other means) with a pharmaceutical sales representative than a medical science liaison (MSL) team member. Respondents said that over the past week they had interacted on average with 3.4 sales reps and 0.8 MSLs.
By comparison, respondents said that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic they were typically engaging with 1.6 MSLs each week and 7.6 sales reps each week.
Looking a year into the future, physicians anticipate interactions with MSLs returning to (and slightly exceeding) pre-pandemic levels; at an average of 1.8 meetings a week.
However, feedback suggests that permanent changes to the frequency of interactions with sales reps could occur as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; a year from now physicians anticipate interacting on average with six sales reps a week.
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