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jallenecs
09-03-2012, 02:33 PM
I'm considering writing a character who works as a pharmaceutical rep. I have met a few, and I know the basics of the job itself. But I wanted to know more about the travel involved. How big is a typical territory, how often does he cover the circuit, how long is a typical stay in a given city, how does he choose which doctors/facilities to visit, how many facilities will he visit in a given area, etc.

boron
09-03-2012, 04:11 PM
I doubt you'll find any exact info from people who themselves are not pharmaceutical reps. These people may either show up at the morning doctors' meetings in hospitals or contribute at seminars organized by pharmaceutical companies.

jallenecs
09-03-2012, 04:25 PM
I doubt you'll find any exact info from people who themselves are not pharmaceutical reps. These people may either show up at the morning doctors' meetings in hospitals or contribute at seminars organized by pharmaceutical companies.

I was an office manager for a doctor's office. I've met a number of reps, listened to their pitches, talked to them about their jobs a bit. I know the basics; I don't need much more than that, because the story is not about the job, but rather what the character encounters while on her travels.

Mostly I'm wondering about the schedules and travel requirements. I supposed I could make it up out of whole cloth, but I'd rather try and get it right.

boron
09-03-2012, 07:45 PM
It seems pharmaceutical reps themselves (and their employers) are the only ones who know their schedules. I don't think people who work in hospitals know where reps are wandering around...

frimble3
09-03-2012, 11:05 PM
If there are no pharmaceutical reps here, why not ask at your doctor's office, or at least the office of a nearby doctor? Ask for a card or the contact number for one of the people who reps them - they could probably point you to a chatty one ;) . Then call the rep and ask directly, or call the pharmaceutical sales department.
If the police are willing to help a writer with a little research, why not them?

benbenberi
09-04-2012, 12:54 AM
I haven't had much contact with the pharma rep world recently, but I recall there were big differences in how these sorts of things were arranged depending on the size of the company/# of reps, the type of product, & the kind of market. A rep selling highly specialized ophthalmological equipment to hospitals & surgical clinics would probably follow very different protocols than those selling mass market blood pressure meds or brand new chemo compounds.

MattW
09-04-2012, 01:05 AM
Like benben said. What is the specialty, geography and company you are trying to duplicate?

A big company with GP products (respiratory, cardiology) could have many sales reps in a single state, with each rep covering a modest drivable range.

A small company or exclusive specialty could have one in dense population zones, but a few traveling reps out where the clinics aren't.

On the coasts, you will probably find many reps from each company for almost every therapy area.

Also - some companies are backing off the pester and plaster office call model, to more targeted approach, less time dropping pamphlets and samples, and are reaching out to medical thought leaders to create pull for products. It's not universal, but it's in combination with traditional approaches.

GeorgeK
09-04-2012, 06:13 PM
I'm considering writing a character who works as a pharmaceutical rep. I have met a few, and I know the basics of the job itself.
Good Start


But I wanted to know more about the travel involved. How big is a typical territory, how often does he cover the circuit, how long is a typical stay in a given city, how does he choose which doctors/facilities to visit, how many facilities will he visit in a given area, etc.

It depends on what they are selling. Some medicines are specific to certain specialties and so the good rep will spend their week scheduling and travelling to all the specific specuialists in that territory. The more specific the med, the bigger the territory, perhaps as large as a medium sized state. Those reps might spend 5 nights a week in motels.

The more general the med, the more Drs might prescribe it, the smaller the territory so the rep can feasibly make their rounds. Those reps might have a city, or a part of a city if it's a metropolis and might be home almost every night.

Some Drs never meet with reps at all and don't accept samples (fairly rare).

Some might just leave instructions for reps to leave samples and literature. (moderately rare to slightly common)

Some might meet with the rep if and when there's down time. Often downtime means, "Bring lunch for the office and I'll squeeze in talking to you at lunch. If you don't bring lunch, then since I need to eat, I'll be gone when you try to talk to me since I'll be out to lunch. However, understand that I can't guarantee that I'll be there if an emergency pops up." (the norm)

Some Drs will bump patients to talk to reps. Often those Doctors are expecting something from the rep, like a golf excursion or fancy dinner at a restaurant or an outright bribe. (fairly rare as far as I know)

An absolute no-no for reps would be to touch another rep's samples. Samples are often the only way to treat patients with crappy insurance and getting the samples to treat them is the only reason some Dr's even talk to reps.

Another one would be to make inappropriate comments, offers or gestures to the staff. I have called companies and told them this or that rep is no longer welcome in my office.

I had one rep actually ask me, "What can I do for you to get you to prescribe more of my drug?"

I answered, "Have a better drug that doesn't only have esoteric applications."

I thought about calling the company to ban that rep, but since it wasn't a blatant attempt at a bribe I didn't. I did call about some that actually offered cash or made creepy lewd comments to staff and they said the guys were creeping them out.

WeaselFire
09-04-2012, 06:48 PM
I have a friend that reps to large animal vets. Her territory is literally hundreds of square miles and she might see four or five vets in a day, sometimes as few as one or two. She'll have an hour drive between vets, and she sets appointments, often with a few out-of-town stays on her route. She's on the road three weeks out of a month.

I have another friend who reps for Pfizer. A lot has changed over the years, but her territory might be 20 square miles. She hits a dozen doctors a day because many no longer talk to reps but she has a few where she will bring lunch to the clinic and talk to a half dozen doctors. She has something in her trunk for virtually every doctor in existence. She is always home at night and her territory gets covered every other month or so. She makes a big effort to see new doctors in town as soon as she can.

One major difference is that the vet products rep also takes orders, the Pfizer rep does not. The vet rep's pay depends on orders as well.

Jeff

jallenecs
09-05-2012, 07:14 PM
Thanks, guys.

The vet rep sounds more promising, now you mention it, Weasel. Thanks! Considering the landscape I'm hoping to use -- Appalachia farming communities and some of the horse country of Kentucky -- a vet rep might make more sense. It'll carry my character into the territory I'm interested in for the story, and put her in contact with the sorts of people I need her to meet. And I have better contacts in that field, now I think on it.

thanks again, guys! You've given me a hook I can hang a story on!