Face Time in Pharma

November 7, 2008

You are insulated by layers of assistants before calls ever get to you. This is what pharmacists have to put up with just because we don’t have layers.

I cannot imagine this happening to prescribers. You are insulated by layers of assistants before calls ever get to you. This is what pharmacists have to put up with just because we don’t have layers. We are accessible.

Last week, I was handed the phone, “Take this one, Jim. You are good with these people.”

The caller was very talented. A pleasant, casual and forthcoming woman. She made me feel warm, but she was still a telephone solicitor. She was not trying to sell me anything. She was trying to detail me on a pharmaceutical product over the telephone. She represented one of the jewels of BIG PHARMA. A major company that sells billion dollar drugs. They were not about to hire someone to read a script. This woman was winging it and she was very good at what she did. I believed that she actually knew about the drug she wanted to talk about.

“Stop,” I said, “Slow down.”

“Do you want me to repeat something?”

“Just stop and listen to me. Okay?”

“Okay.” Her voice was still very friendly, cooperative.

“Now, please don’t take this personally. I have an attitude about what you are doing. I do not like it and I’m going to say goodbye very soon.”

“All I’m doing is trying to give you important information on a product.”

“I know. It’s your job and you are good at it, but my fondest wish for you is that every pharmacist you talk to just says NO.”

“Pardon me.” A hint of ice in her voice now.

“Your calling me at 1:00 PM on a busy day to try to educate me on one of your company’s products is an insult.”

“How is that?” A chill.

“If your company wants to get my attention it will have to send a representative right through the front door of this pharmacy. Your company will have to send an educated, professional man or woman for some live face time.”

“Oh, I see. I’ll pass that on.” Deep freeze.

“I will always give a detail person a few minutes. I don’t want pens or sticky pads. What I want is: What does the drug do? What are the dangers? Why is it better than the other guy’s? That’s all I want.”

“I can tell you all of that.”

“Nope! I’m stubborn about this. I want face time with a human being.”