Oncologists Most Likely to Be Inaccessible to Pharma Reps

A new report finds that among all the types of physicians, oncologists are most likely to restrict visits with pharmaceutical reps.

A new report finds that among all the types of physicians, oncologists are most likely to restrict visits with pharmaceutical reps.

Despite the fact that there are nearly 1000 oncology drugs in the pipeline, a new survey shows that oncologists are more likely than physicians of any other specialty to deny or restrict access to pharmaceutical sales representatives.

The 2012 AccessMonitor report from ZS Associates—a sales and marketing consulting firm specializing in pharmaceuticals—examined data from nearly 350,00 physicians. Physicians who met with more than 70% of reps who called on them were labeled “accessible,” those who met with 31% to 70% of reps were deemed “access restricted,” and the physicians who met with less than 30% were considered “severely access restricted.”

The report found that only 39% of oncologists were accessible. In contrast, 65% of all prescribers were found to be accessible to pharmaceutical reps. Authors of the report explained oncologists’ lack of accessibility with the following statement:

“While oncologists still see some value in rep visits, increased patient load and more time spent on reimbursement issues limit the time they have available. Most practices now require reps to schedule appointments in advance—and they generally provide only 2 or 3 potential openings per week.”

“Sales reps equip oncologists with data on evolving science, access to financial assistance for patients, and help with reimbursement support and patient support materials,” Ganesh Vedarajan, PhD, MBA, principal and leader of the oncology and specialty therapeutics practice at ZS Associates, said in a statement. “Regulatory constraints, however, are increasingly restricting these offerings. Physicians also are able to access scientific data in real time through other channels.”

Whether it be due to regulatory constraints, transparency requirements, or reimbursement issues, the fact that oncologists are limiting their visits with reps could lead to gaps in knowledge regarding the new oncolytics that will be introduced into the market over the next year—gaps that could potentially be filled by specialty pharmacists.