Age: It’s rude to ask a woman her age.
Work: Drug Pusher –
Legally? A Medical Representative. And we don’t sell drugs, we just push drugs – for the politically correct term – we promote ethical drugs to medical practitioners. Ethical here stands for those medicines that are not actively promoted on the tri media (radio, television, newspapers). Ethical drugs stand for medicines or drugs which cannot be dispensed without a doctor’s prescription.
Seen Love and Other Drugs? In a nutshell that’s what I do – but not really. It is a twisted and exaggerated take on the life of a Medical Representative. But then again –
I am supposed to write something about the profession – but that will have to wait. I have a story to tell and it involves my profession and the questions that most patients ask me when i am waiting outside the doctor’s clinic.
As Medical Representatives, we are not allowed to do business transactions directly with the patients, it is considered unethical and would warrant a sanction of dismissal if proven that such practices were being done.
The gray area is this, during the wait for the doctors, patients would usually strike a conversation with you. Ask you what company you are working for, the drugs that you’re pushing and of course the things that you do as a drug rep. It would be rude not to answer such queries, since it does not involve a business transaction, so you indulge them. However, more often than not, the blame is on you and your profession. One particular conversation I will never forget:
Patient: Med Rep ka? Anong company ka? (Are you a med rep? from what company?)
Me: Yes po. From – toot toot
Patient: Para saan yun gamot mo?
Me: For COPD po.
Patient: I heard that Med Reps are very much well compensated. You have a car?
Me: Ummm yes, as for the compensation – it’s okay. But the call center agents have bigger entry-level salary than us po.
Patient: Alam mo hindi ako pabor dyan sa trabaho nyo. Kasi di ba, kaya mahal yun mga gamot namin – dahil sa inyong mga Med Rep. ( You know what, i am not in favor of you profession – isn’t it right that the reason why the cost of medicine is so high is because of you Medical Representatives?
Me: (wow! – feeling bad) Maybe so. The main reason we are here is because we serve as intermmediaries to the medical community. Ethical drugs are not being promoted using the tri media – thus we serve as the “connector” between the drug company and the medical practitioners. Otherwise, newly launch products which can greatly benefit you (as patients) would not be properly disseminated, considering that in our country there are very few doctors and some of them does not really have the time to attend product launches anymore. As for the cost of medicines – the pharmaceutical industry is also a business – they would want to make a profit also. The cost of research alone for a new drug is very expensive and would take years before it can be launched. And i am sure, your doctor have your best interests at heart.
I understand that our medicines are expensive if we compare it to other countries like India – however, there are reasons behind the differences in pricing strategies for every country.
It is very frustrating when patients blame your profession for the high cost of medicines. That was the only time that i offered an answer to such query, most of the time i just smile and walk away.