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What do you do for a living?

I’m a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep for Pfizer.

How would you describe what you do?

I would describe it as a sales person calling on doctors and my job is to get doctors to use the drugs that I’m selling. And I have four products, so I have to get them to write my four products for the patients.

What does your work entail?

You see anywhere between 10 and 15 doctors a day for 5 days in a week. You call on those doctors who are the biggest prescribers, so I would look at a computer

You’re offering a product that a lot of times, people don’t believe in and you have to make them believe in that product because if your product wasn’t superior to most other products, it wouldn’t be out here.

and look at a doctor’s profile and if they have a lot of potential to write my products, I target those doctors and try to get those doctors to write my product.  During the work week, you travel a lot. Some territories are bigger than others, but mine’s about two hours long, so some days I’m two hours away from home in a small town calling on a small clinic or there’s other days when I’m in a bigger city and I call on the doctors there. In some work weeks you have speaker programs where you have doctors come in and you take a specialist, a well-known specialist from another state or city. And you take them into offices and let them talk about their experiences with your products and how they had success stories with your products. And what you’re trying to do is try to influence those doctors into writing your product.

What do you like about what you do?

Personally, I enjoy being out and moving around. I’ve had a desk job and I liked it as well, but I really like being out and being moving around all the time because you’re always running into all different kinds of people. You get to see different kinds of people every day.

You have to have something to offer these companies. The pharmaceutical companies are the most applied to companies in the United States right now. More people want to work in pharmaceuticals than any other. My company actually gets more applications per day than Wal-Mart. That’s huge, so it’s very competitive to get into and if you’re going to try to get into it, don’t get discouraged if you get turned down for a while. It took me over a year to get hired.

And just meeting all the different people and interacting with those people is probably one of the top things that I like about it, and also, it’s just like your territory is your business. It’s just like having your own business and that’s your territory to work and try to maximize your profits and everything in that territory.

What do you dislike?

There’s a lot of pressure with this job. The company increases your quotas every year, so you have a lot of pressure to outdo what you’ve already done. So with most drug companies 100 percent isn’t good enough. 100 percent is the bare minimum, so you’re trying to outdo 100 percent. You want to have a 160 percent quota and there’s a lot of pressure. And with this job as well, there is a lag time as far as getting your reports. So, if I go into an office and make a sale, I don’t hand over a prescription for

You have to be like a chameleon. You have to blend in to every situation. You have doctors who are big sports fans; you have doctors who could care less about any sport…You have to blend yourself to be able to have conversations and communicate with all kinds of different people.

the doctor to give to a patient. I have to count on them to write it after I’m gone. So you don’t get the satisfaction of making that sale every day like you would if you was a regular salesperson, if you were selling a product that you carried with you. You have to monitor that data later on. You don’t reap your crop right there, you have to wait until later to see how it turned out.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated?

With most pharmaceutical companies you get a salary and you also get paid commission on your drugs that you sell. So, if you sell 160 percent of one product, you get paid on 60 percent over that quota. The more you sell the more you make, so the harder you work, the more money you make. You also get a company car, you get free gas, you get to provide a lot of meals for offices and doctors and you also get to eat with them for free. You get free car insurance, great benefits, stock options. I would say there’s $20,000 added onto your salary that you don’t see that you get in just perks, that come with the job.

How much money do you make?

In a given year, as a pharmaceutical rep, you can’t really say how much you make because you could make anywhere between $70,000 and $100,000 or you could make less. If you don’t make your sales, you don’t make as much. But usually a base salary for a pharmaceutical sales rep with minimal experience, you’ll start out

I don’t have a boss walking down a hallway every hour to check on me and make sure I’m doing my work. They trust you with millions of dollars worth of samples. They give you a car. They trust you with a car and they trust you with a company expense account. ‘Freedom’, is probably the one word to say what I like the best about it.

about $50,000 a year base salary. If you have a base salary of $50,000, you could make $20,000 in bonuses if you did real well. And that’s not counting the $20,000 worth of stuff that you get as far as your cell phone paid, your car’s paid for, your car insurance is paid for and your gas is paid for. You can count that as about $20,000 more as well a year.

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What education or skills are needed to do this?

You have to have a good personality. You have to be able to deal with all different kinds of people. You have to have a four-year Bachelor’s Degree, so you must go to college. You must get a degree. And most of these companies are looking for people who are leaders and people who are very competitive. So, you have to be able to show that, and you have to be able to…You have to be like a chameleon. You have to blend in to every situation. You have doctors who are big sports fans; you have doctors who could care less about any sport. They’ve never played a sport, they’re more into science and more into research and stuff. You have to blend yourself to be able to have conversations and communicate with all kinds of different kinds of people.

What is most challenging about what you do?

A lot of times, the most challenging is just getting access to doctors. You’ll go in some clinics where they see 15 or 20 reps a day. You have to stand out. You have to do something different and a lot of times all they want to do is come up and sign your piece of paper to get your samples and then they’re out. They’re very busy. So, getting time with those doctors, I would say, would be one of the hardest things and most challenging. And the other thing is a lot of times your product is very expensive and you have to get them to buy it and show your product is worth it.

What is most rewarding?

I would say the most rewarding to me is just being able to be out on my own. I don’t have a boss walking down a hallway every hour to check on me and make sure I’m doing my work. They trust you with millions of dollars worth of samples. They give you a car. They trust you with a company expense account. I really like that.  ‘Freedom’, is probably the one word to say what I like the best about it.

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

I would say if you’re a college student, you need to be very involved. You need to be involved in every club that you can and hold positions in that club to where you can show that you have improved something or you have accomplished something because that’s what this company’s about. I mean, most pharmaceutical companies, they want you to improve your territory, so if one year you sold 110 percent, the next year, they’re going to expect you to sell more. So you have to be able to prove that you’re competitive and that you want to win and that you want to do better. Any leadership stuff that you’ve been involved with or if you’ve had success in another sales job, you need to be able to prove that, and show it you did it and how you’re going to do it with any other company.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

I think a lot of people, as far as when you walk into an office, whether it’s a patient or it’s a secretary or if it’s a doctor, they just think you’re there to deliver samples. A lot of times pharmaceutical reps are dressed very nice, we drive nice vehicles and they think that you just make a bundle of money and you don’t do any work, when it is really extremely hard. It’s an extremely hard job and a lot of pressure on you and what you do is work. You’re offering a product and a lot of times, people don’t believe in it and you have to make them believe in that product because if your product wasn’t superior to most other products, it wouldn’t be out here. It wouldn’t be being used. I would say just learning the science background and then just the misconception is that you don’t do anything when you really do work very hard.

What else would you like people to know about what you do?

I think that they should just know that it’s not an easy job. It’s not easy like a lot of people think. It is hard and like I said before, there’s a lot of pressure. And it’s very, very hard to get into. Very seldom does a person come out of college and get a pharmaceutical sales job. You have to have something to offer because these companies, the pharmaceutical companies are the most applied to companies in the United States right now. More people want to work in pharmaceuticals than any other, you know. I mean, my company actually gets more applications per day than Wal-Mart. That’s huge, so it’s very competitive to get into and if you’re going to try to get into it, don’t get discouraged if you get turned down for a while. It took me over a year to get hired.

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Danielle January 9, 2014 at 8:45 pm

This must be outdated because it is not legal for pharma sales reps to make commission in the US. You get nice salaries… I was offered 70k, and how well you do at exceeding your quota determines your raise.

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M March 12, 2014 at 5:07 pm

It is definitely legal to get bonuses in the US. A couple companies stopped doing it on their own, but all of the other ones still give bonuses/commission. That’s how reps get paid other than the base salary.

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Mark September 12, 2013 at 7:06 am

Pharma reps can’t sell and don’t sell. The job is nothing more than a lunch catering rep with a name tag. I used to be at Bayer Women’s Health and the Mirena reps do nothing all day. They could hire reps out of college to deliver lunches for 40k.

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Toni May 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Would someone with a basic science background be a good candidate for this type of job?
I have a bachelors degree in chemistry from a public research university, 5 years of life sciences research experience in pharmaceuticals, and plenty of leadership experience. I’m currently in a PhD program, but have decided to leave early with a masters degree because I found that I’m not happy working in academic science.
Would my education make me over-qualified? I don’t have any B2B sales experience, but I have worked with different scientific sales reps in my research career. I am also working with different scientific vendors to help sponsor a conference for my department.
Please let me know how I can get my foot in the door for this industry.

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Edna Seymour August 11, 2014 at 1:19 pm

If you are still interested, please send me an email: seymoure08@gmail.com

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kgloria February 19, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Thank you for posting this. It’s very helpful on the paper I’m writing about the relationship between Pharmaceutical Companies and Physicians. It’s very interesting to read first hand from a Drug Rep that the best thing about their job, are the (hidden)perks and freedom you get, rather than about providing drugs that will benefit not just the physicians with the money, but the low-middle-and even high class citizens that need certain drugs for health purposes.

Of course this assumption is only based from this single interview. I’m hoping to find more that tell me other wise.

If anyone has any links/ sources to interviews-information that you may find useful to my paper, I ask that you please post or respond to my comment!

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Erica February 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Hello. I hope this finds you well. Thank you for taking the time to read this e mail. My name is Erica Minko and I am currently completing my bachelor’s degree. Upon graduation my goal is to be a Pharmaceutical Drug Rep in the veterinary field. I have my AS in Veterinary Technology and worked in the field as a Certified Veterinary Technician for six years. The reason for this e mail is completing a Networking Assignment for my writing management class and to learn more about the field I would like to enter upon graduation. If you would please answer the following questions below it would be greatly appreciate.
• How often do you need to write for your job?
• What kind of writing do you do?
• How much of each workday is taken up by some kind of writing?
• Are you allowed to write abbreviations?
• What is the most common way you communicate during the day?
• When visiting hospitals do you have to do a write up on what transpired during your visit?

Thank you for your time.

Best Regards
Erica Minko,CVT

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Jana Gregory November 18, 2012 at 1:44 am

When you email doctors requesting an appointment to discuss a product, what should you write to get their attention, and the appointment. The same question for phone calls, what should you say to get that appt?

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Frank Masi June 27, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I’m working as a catering manager for
Moe’s Southwest Grill.We have 3
locations in NJ Paramus,Mahwah,and
Pompton Plains. How do I reach out
to pharma reps to build a relasionship
and serve his/her catering needs.
Thanks

Reply

naingaungko April 20, 2012 at 4:35 am

Thanks

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michael April 12, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Steve,

Thats very interesting. I have been doing research on how to break into the Pharmaceutical rep industry. I do have 2 years of college coursework with no degree, but I do have approximately 10 years of progressive sales experience with a track record of success. I am quite intrigued by your comment. I will appreciate it if you can comment further on how to get into the surgical manufacturer rep industry.

Thanks.


I’m not trying to mean because phrama reps make a very decent living. However, most surgical manufacturers will not hire former drug reps. There is really no “selling” in the drup rep world. You aren’t really selling an widget and your involvement is not looked upon as a necessity for the
Physician. Bringing added value with office based products I.e. Billing and revenue based models and surgical implants and instrumentations separate you from the back. I have no college degree and was given an opportunity to work as a independent contractor aka 1099 in the field of orthopedics. While I do not receive a car or cell phone allowance, distributors generally earn a great deal more that drug reps and have the ability to represent a handful of products. Personally I have represented products and business models that have generated millions for my customers. That accomplishment has given me the chance to be “necessary” to a doctors practice. Some doctors would not know how to get through routine surgeries without the assistance of the manufactures rep. My first yea I made $40k. 10 years later I am tracking an income of approx. $280k. I know some reps that make closer to $500k. The greatest thing about not being a direct sales rep is not having to write reports and all the busy work that most direct reps are subject to. If I make my number, I get to keep my job. If I keep my job, I get paid well. My only advice is that if you are interested in becoming a surgical rep, DO NOT think that being a drug rep will help your efforts. I represent several top orthopedic companies and they won’t even interview ex drug reps for entry level positions. The jobs are not with the manufacturers. Find out who your local distributor is for the top manufacturers and contact them directly. They are not as regulated when it comes to experience and education. If you can understand the needs of your customer and create avenues for ancillary income for the practice, you are an asset. Getting signatures for sample drug do not apply.”

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Tina November 14, 2013 at 5:52 pm

I don’t want to be mean however you are not even qualified to apply for pharma rep job. You need minimum bachelors degree to apply. Yes it’s true equipment sales is more financially rewarding. BTW- a lot of my fellow reps did went on to join surgical equipment sale. They were recruited with signing bonus because of their education. One of my friend had masters in neuroscience. I am surprised that companies would hire someone with no college degree to discuss products with surgeons.

lastly never comment on a job that you have never done. Yes I do sell and it’s very competitive. You will not last in this industry.

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Jason March 1, 2012 at 12:00 am

I didn’t know it was a competetive field to get into, it seems like they’re hiring for it all the time…?

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Steve January 18, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I’m not trying to mean because phrama reps make a very decent living. However, most surgical manufacturers will not hire former drug reps. There is really no “selling” in the drup rep world. You aren’t really selling an widget and your involvement is not looked upon as a necessity for the
Physician. Bringing added value with office based products I.e. Billing and revenue based models and surgical implants and instrumentations separate you from the back. I have no college degree and was given an opportunity to work as a independent contractor aka 1099 in the field of orthopedics. While I do not receive a car or cell phone allowance, distributors generally earn a great deal more that drug reps and have the ability to represent a handful of products. Personally I have represented products and business models that have generated millions for my customers. That accomplishment has given me the chance to be “necessary” to a doctors practice. Some doctors would not know how to get through routine surgeries without the assistance of the manufactures rep. My first yea I made $40k. 10 years later I am tracking an income of approx. $280k. I know some reps that make closer to $500k. The greatest thing about not being a direct sales rep is not having to write reports and all the busy work that most direct reps are subject to. If I make my number, I get to keep my job. If I keep my job, I get paid well. My only advice is that if you are interested in becoming a surgical rep, DO NOT think that being a drug rep will help your efforts. I represent several top orthopedic companies and they won’t even interview ex drug reps for entry level positions. The jobs are not with the manufacturers. Find out who your local distributor is for the top manufacturers and contact them directly. They are not as regulated when it comes to experience and education. If you can understand the needs of your customer and create avenues for ancillary income for the practice, you are an asset. Getting signatures for sample drug do not apply.

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J Casey September 8, 2011 at 7:39 am

I’ve been a salesman for 25 years, mostly cars and electronics. Would these be good qualifications that the drug companies would be looking for? I know how to deal with people without having to lie to them like other people I’ve worked with. A great salesman makes a consumer see the advantage and value of a product. If a Drug rep or company sees my post, you’re welcome to respond at puttputt1982@yahoo.com if you would like someone reliable that’s looking to try something new and will do a great job. Jerry Casey. Louisville Ky

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Cassie July 23, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Do you “have” to have a bachelor’s degree? Or is an associates in Marketing good enough?

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Rodger July 3, 2011 at 11:25 pm

just be a attractive male/female with a sense of humor and you can become one. I see plenty of these while I’m shadowing physicians.

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Tina November 14, 2013 at 5:55 pm

It’s highly competitive field to get into. One job opening with 100 applicants so pharma companies have choice of picking someone who is intelligent and attractive over boring, intelligent candidates.

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Denise June 8, 2011 at 11:17 am

I would like for a seasoned pharm rep to contact me. Thanks

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Kathy March 17, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Hello everyone! I’d love to have an informational interview with anyone that has about 20 minutes of their time to spare so that I can learn all about pharmaceutical sales and related positions. Thanks, By phone is ok or in person if you are located in Manhattan or any of the outer boroughs. Thanks, Kathy

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cindy July 31, 2010 at 1:17 am

Hi quick question I was wondering if you are covered by wcb if you end up hurting ur self on the job as sales rep for pfizer? Thank you

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rukhsar janjua June 10, 2010 at 8:53 am

I found this interview ‘by googling ‘ thank you for posting it was very informative.

rukhsar janjua jhelum pakistan

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cecilia May 9, 2010 at 5:48 pm

I have been working in a private dermatology physician practice in the Atlanta area for 10 years now. I run the triage unit, and I would like to respond to undergraduate. I find drug sales rep’s to be very helpful in my line of work. We don’t “sell” prescriptions, we offer what we feel would be the best treatment protocol for a patients condition with the least adverse affects. The drug rep’s that I encounter tend to be very well versed in the mechanics of how their medication works. With this information, we are able to prescribe more effectively.
New medications CAN be expensive, but these new medications are more and more effective. Without our drug rep’s we wouldn’t be awarded this information about these medications. If we don’t know about them we don’t use them, and I need to know about them for when patients call for advice. So therefore, drug rep’s are a VERY important aspect, especially in the field of private practice.

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Rochanna March 13, 2009 at 8:35 am

I am looking for a representitive in the waltham area who can be our new drug rep for Lipitor, and possible other drugs. We are a concierge medical practice, and we like to get the samples to give to our patients. Please contact me at my email with information, it would be greatly appreciated. rochanna@orchardhealthcare.com

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km 10 yr Pharmaceutical Rep February 15, 2009 at 2:18 am

It is sad to say that seriously Pharma has changed now after 01/09. Layoffs everywhere and this job is not as secure as it once was. Pharma guidelines now have changed everyone in the industry now to trying to find a different line of work. “No see rep” doctors everyday in the field. Take a vets advice go into medical sales or anything else. Pharma is a dead end!

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Ashley Thellman January 21, 2009 at 1:42 am

I would to Love to hear about your Pharmaceutical Sales position!

Thanks,

Ashley Thellman

(913)620-1234
thellman@ku.edu

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Pfizer rep December 6, 2008 at 1:33 am

I am a Pfizer rep. You do not sell. You show up. Whoever posted above has a very inflated sense of self. The insurance companies run medicine. Drs even have problems getting patients the drugs they NEED. After Jan 1st 2009 with the new pharma code pharma reps will become a thing of the past. Next 5 years-won’t be a saught after job at all. I’m getting OUT! And byt the way it took me one day to get an offer. You just have to be SMART to get in. A year to get a sample dropping job is not that impressive.

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Pamela November 30, 2008 at 10:46 am

People always say that you have to have a four year degree to become a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep, but what they fail to acually tell you is a four year degree in what? Pharmaceutical Sales? Medical Terminology? Marketing/Sales? Or all the above?

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Stephen Von Kaas December 19, 2012 at 1:32 am

A science or biology degree is highly regarded. However, any 4 year degree is good for pharmaceutical sales. We’ve seen pharma reps with degrees in finance, communication, psychology, education, sociology, human services, criminal justice/law, accounting, marketing, physical therapy, chiropractic, dental, agriculture…you name it! It’s the fact that you have one and what you’ve done with it that’s the most important!

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iak June 18, 2008 at 8:39 am

Your post was very brief yet extremely helpful. Thanks! By the way do you know the best way to network into this field besides internships? Thanks!

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Erik June 2, 2008 at 5:45 pm

Thank you for the information. If I’d like to shadow a Pharmaceutical Rep to get first hand insight into a day in the life of, how do you recommend I go about finding a Rep willing to allow me to shadow them? Is this something a Rep would be allowed to do under company policy (precept me)? Thank you.

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Ying March 20, 2008 at 4:10 am

Thanks a lot tomorow I will have 3rd round interview with MERCK I hope this will be the final round for me, and hope I will get this job.
Your posting help me a lot!

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Undergraduate March 18, 2008 at 1:43 am

!

It’s because of peddlers like these that are increasing health care costs. Of course they’re not solely the root cause, but they are certainly contributers…

For those of you who don’t know:

Pharmaceutical companies (aka “Big Pharma”) are business entities and as such, seek PROFIT. They push they’re lines of pills to the market even at the expense of the public interest. No doubt you’ve heard that certain pharmaceutical companies have had their drugs pulled off the market only after causing significant damage. If it sells, they’ll sell it. Even if it may kill you. Even if it may not be better than the generic drug that costs 95% less and is just as effective or better!

Pharmaceutical reps act as agents for these guys. They sweet talk physicians into using their drugs. They’re peddlers. Many former reps have confessed to the unethical foundations that pharmaceuticals are grounded in. They’re business. They want money. It doesn’t matter if they hurt a few hundred or a thousand people. If it can bring in cash without causing a big uproar, it’s a success.

P.s.
I’m not bashing on whoever was interviewed here. But this is the nature of medicine at large. Businesses, government, lobby groups, and medical professionals are all tied into this web, each competing to ensure that the get their lion’s share. The question is, who’s looking out for the patient/customer?

If any of you don’t believe anything I’ve stated here, go search it up yourself. I implore you. Knowledge is freedom.

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GA GERM May 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I found the reply another example of how uninformed many people in this country seem to be. If you are alive to write this message then somewhere along the way you probably had to have some medical help. Where did that medicine come from? I will tell you not from the government. Many years ago I was a medical rep. for one of about 35 companies doing independent research on new drugs. These companies were not supported by the government and had a short period of time to make their profit on the product they released. We now have very few companies doing this research. How many new antibiotics have you seen lately? Have you heard of MRSA or VRSA. Now in the news we have the Flesh Eating Bacteria. Why and who will develop the answer for those who are exposed to it in the future? No company releases a product they think will have an adverse effect on a patient. One thing most people don’t take into consideration is that many drugs are for limited problems. Some of the drugs will never make the company a profit but, to the person that needs it there is no value to attach except maybe their life.

One of the things I have always believed is that if you see a doctor that does not see the Pharmaceutical Rep. you will be seeing a doctor that is probably not up to date on what is going on with new drugs and their use. Doctors don’t have the time to attend meetings and educational seminars, that’s what the medical rep does. They do more that leave samples.

If you want to let the government be in charge of your health and treatment then be prepared to suffer.

Just my thoughts

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Pharma employee October 27, 2012 at 5:46 am

The information with regards to what “drug” to use should come from a physicians own research, not the fact that he was sent on a golfing trip, or was fawning over some blonde bimbo pharma sales rep! Unfortunately most doctors aren’t even capable of handling science on this level. The dirty truth is that low cost generic drugs are fine for the vast majority, doctors push expensive patented medications because of the aforementioned reasons. The pharmaceutical industry is rife with lying and misrepresentation, I know, I’ve worked on the research side of it for 20 years, they are not to be trusted.

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sanjay kumar haldar January 31, 2008 at 9:44 am

dear sir,
i am a BSc. & D. Pharma . i want to appear in the interview as medical rep.

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trave45 January 17, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Thanks, I’m glad you found it helpful!

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floyd robinson January 16, 2008 at 5:49 pm

I found this interview ‘by googling ‘ thank you for posting it was very informative

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