Speak Out: Have your interactions with drug/device reps changed? How?

July 1, 2010

Concerns about regulations and time have changed the way urologists work with drug and device reps.

We used to get a ton of educational material on virtually all of the GnRH releasing agents, but not anymore. They aren't offering the same education, and that will end up damaging patient care. We used to have a lunch every day of the week and get educated on different materials, but if we have one lunch a month, that's about it.

The only reason we still see reps is for samples."

"My relationships with reps have been pretty consistent. I treat them politely. I realize I can get samples from them.

I haven't limited the time of their presentations because the gifts from them have lessened or anything like that. It hasn't had any effect on me whatsoever. I let them give me a quick 30-second sales pitch at most, and that's about it.

I take advantage of the fact that I can get free samples. A good portion of my patient population is in a lower socioeconomic group, and my patients are very grateful any time I can give them a package of medications."

Elliot Steigman, MD
Jersey City, NJ

pharma, period. While there is a hint of concern over therapeutic advantages and cost, it is obvious that it is all about the bottom line.

Instead of being able to bring you pens, which is what I really need, the reps will arrange a dinner, bringing in speakers who usually don't know much more than the average urologist (not very cost efficient in my mind). I can't get a pen, while their lobbyists are in the pockets of our elected officials. Go figure!

I also think that reps should make appointments with the staff, as it can be very disruptive for you to see them during normal working hours.

The biggest advantage they offer is to provide samples to our patients prior to writing them a prescription that may go to waste if the drug is either ineffective or creates intolerable side effects."

Ernest Sussman, MD
Las Vegas

We're not losing any knowledge, because we get the same information relayed to us about studies or new drugs.

Regarding device companies, our relationship hasn't changed at all. I see them regularly for nerve stimulation cases or implants such as slings and grafts, so they still come into the OR as much as ever.

Because we've limited the drug reps' access, our samples are also limited. I wouldn't say that's harmful to patients, but it may not be in their best interests. Samples are the way to get patients on meds. Instead of spending a lot of money, patients try the samples. It's like taking a car for a test drive; if the medication works, they fill the prescription. In that regard, it's probably affected patient care."

Elizabeth Miller, MD
Bellevue, WA