Drug Reps

        I get along fine with most of the reps.  90% of them work hard, are professional and have some good information to leave with us, though some of it has to be viewed with a jaundiced  eye.

        Every once in a while one will get on my last nerve though.  The ones who don’t realize the patients come first are doomed with me.   One told me he wanted more of my time, and I told him I had a loyalty list.  My wife and kids are at the top, then my patients and my staff, then my bluegrass band, and ‘well son, you are just way down here.’  I rubbed my hand on the carpet for emphasis.

        One fellow came through with some new steroid cream and acted like it was gonna rid the world of all dermatological ills.  “Doctor, have you tried it yet?”

        “Yeah, I used some of the samples.”

        “Wonderful.  How did it do?”

         “Excellent.  My dog had the mange and it seemed to relieve some of the itching for her.”  I don’t think that was what he wanted to hear.

        Another said, “Doctor in my experience…”  I don’t know what he said after that.  No one 25 years old needs to open with that line to me, at least on doctor issues.  Now bluegrass is another matter.  I know plenty of pickers that age who can run circles around me, and I pay attention to what they have to say.  Same way with writing.  I hate to sound arrogant, but that boy isn’t gonna scoop me on the Doctor gig.  He just needs to tell me about his product and let it go at that.

         He did leave me one thing that helped though.  It was some kind of luggage handle wrap thing, and when I turned it inside out so the logo wouldn’t show it worked quite well to shore up the worn out handle on my mandolin case.  Last time I saw him I thanked him for it.  I don’t think he wanted to hear that either.

        But the worst one was years ago.  One day some young lady just gushed over her company’s new blood pressure medicine.   “Doctor, can I leave you some samples?”

        “Yeah, how about a couple boxes.  I have one patient who takes it and he can’t afford his medicine.  I hate to ask for extra, but he really needs it.”

       This was a very attractive young woman.  As she moved closer, I realized her attire was, uh… inappropriate or revealing might be the best words.  I backed up my chair.

        “No problem, Doctor.”  She inched out over my desk.  “I want you to know if you write my antihypertensive, you can have anything you want.”  Her message and the view were both quite clear.

        By now my back was to the wall. The office intercom was just to my left.  I paged Paig.  “Hey Paig, this young lady needs directions to Harvey Surgical.  She’s late for her appointment.”

         Paig came in and led her away by the ear.  She marked her card with an ‘X,’ the office code for no appointments.  My people are protective of me like that.

        It is a good thing for the girl it wasn’t Marfar who educated her.  I only made a ‘B’ in Orthopedics and I m not sure I could have fixed the child up.

        We never saw her again, but my guess is she didn’t make it as a rep.  I hope she didn’t anyway.

Dr. B

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12 Comments on “Drug Reps”

  1. Oh lord, dealing with drug company people must be both a bore and a chore. Come to think of it, it might be amusing to see them trying so hard, but still, I’m sure it’s not your favorite thing to do.

  2. drtombibey Says:

    ms slightly,

    Some of them have become good friends and a few like the ones I mentioned are pests. Overall in the office the patients are number one by far.

    You are right; some try so hard it is funny. Another line I love is when they say, “Will you promise to write a precsciption for me?”

    I always want to say, “Are you sick?”

    Dr. B

  3. julius Says:

    Slightly, as a student, I’ve found few uses for drug reps. I’m in a low populated state, and there are a ton of them up here, multiple ones for the same company; overall they carry about 2 drugs apiece that they deal with it, and some companies like Pfiezer, Novartis, etc have a ton of medications; so imagine how they are elsewhere in highly dense areas. If you didn’t know, at the start of the year, they are not able any longer to give out free pens, pads, office supplies,etc to the docs anymore as per the government–all to save some greenbacks on medication costs for the patient. In my opinion, this is a waste of legislation–those hardly cost anything; but think of how many drug reps these companies employ. I understand how much of a hard time it is for people now to get jobs, but this is one of the first places they need to look if they want to cut costs. It is easy enough to get information out there about the medications without these reps. Doc’s get a ton of journal articles that have all this information in them (just have to take the time to skim them, and a good doc does to keep up to date). If a medication works, it will be used. So, less crap drugs on the market that would otherwise just be income for the companies and a burden on pharmacies, insurance companies (don’t even get me started on them!), and hence the patients. Another reason for the increased costs–patents on the drugs are only good for 20 or so years–1/4 of that the med is still in testing trials, so they only have a small time to make up the R&D on the med, and then the profit.

    Ok, I’m rambling now. But, as I said at first, they are good for few things. One, they can become a good friend. Second, until this year started, the free stuff. Third, filet migon! They are still able to hold dinners!

  4. drtombibey Says:


    My guess is the young Docs are hip and techno-savvy and will rely less on info from reps than the old days.

    I like to use the samples for the patients who can’t afford medcine, but there is no doubt it’s an inefficient way to help.

    Heck, HCTZ is like mulch, about a ten dollars per pick-up load, and it works just as well. Folks are often better off to stick with those.

    Sadly, in this society, folks are conditioned to demand ‘the best,’ and often there is much pressure to use new things. I am not sure the evidence is any better for outcomes from all that marketing.

    Dr. B

  5. Karen Says:

    I like your idea of using samples to help those who can’t afford the medication. Here we are quite fortunate. There is a government established scheme that subsidises the costs of a lot of medication. If it’s been proven and there is enough need for it, is goes on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the government covers the shortfall, making it affordable for the consumer. There are some very expensive treatments on there that end up costing patients very little. There are occasionally problems with some things that aren’t on the PBS that possibly should be, but overall it works really well. Plus, if you’re a low income family (which we are as my husband is the only one bringing in an income while I’m at home with the kids) you qualify for a Health Care Card. That means all my prescriptions will be $3.60 – no matter how much the medication actually costs. That’s why I don’t mind paying taxes…

  6. drtombibey Says:

    Ms Karen,

    I believe we will move to such a system soon. Only problem is we are kinda broke right now.

    As things move along, I will be intersted in your take on how things work in Australia.

    I wrote an article that is due for publication with Kent State Press in 2010, so I get to put in my two cents worth thru Dr. Zink every so often.

    Dr. B

  7. Susan Shay Says:

    Dr T-
    My single-at-the-time-they-met doc married his drug rep. I guess she was okay.
    BTW: Thanks for the smile.

  8. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Susan,

    Well if it was the one who showed up here, she was a looker, but I was long since spoken for.

    Dr. B

  9. This made me smile. Never really knew how they market drugs to doctors. Actually, it’s something that had never crossed my mind until now.

    Btw, thanks for stopping by my blog, Dr. Bibey.

  10. drtombibey Says:


    Well thanks for dropping by. Yeah the drug rep gig can be interesting. Most of them are fine, but every so often….

    Dr. B

  11. Martin Waddell Says:

    My wife is a doctor here in Scotland. She used to have quite a few drug reps inviting her and her colleagues out to lunch, but this has dropped off over the past few years – an effect of the recession, maybe. But we still end up with lots of pens and other stationery with medical names on them. Our local Presbyterian minister, whose wife is also a doctor, gets the same. He was at a church meeting some time ago, wondering why he was getting strange looks from the other good Christian folk there, until he realised he was using drug rep notepaper from his wife, with adverts for Viagra all over it. Got to be very careful with this stuff.

  12. drtombibey Says:

    Mr Waddell,

    My wife was at Bible study a few years ago and everyone began to laugh. She had pulled out a Viagra pen to take notes with.

    You do have to be careful!

    Dr. B

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