Pharmaceutical Sales? - page 4

Have any of you fellow nurses had any experience with this? I was talking to a few people *non-nurses* who said that there is good money in this, etc. They said being a nurse would be an advantage. I... Read More

  1. by   Multicollinearity
    Quote from RNOTODAY
    I know this seems like a silly question, but I really dont know and I am embarrassed to ask a "real" person ... lol
    What do the reps actually "sell"? The pts insurance company pays for the drugs that they get at the pharmacy, but they give samples to the doctor in the office.... where is there a sale involved?????? Please enlighten me.....
    The goal is to get the prescribing practitioners to prescribe the drugs of the company that you represent, specifically over other company's competing drugs.

    It's all about getting docs and NP's to prescribe your product, so a 'sale' will take place - at the pharmacy.
  2. by   momof4ndocswife
    My husband is a family physician (age 55, private practice since 1984) and our 28 year old daughter has been a pharm. sales rep ever since graduating from a college 6 years ago. I'm a senior nursing student (returned to school for a 2nd degree after raising 4 kids) and can tell you that I would never want my daughter's job. She has a good income but works very long hours and had to get accustomed to having the door slammed in her face, although she already knew (from growing up in our family) before going into the job that doctors aren't usually that receptive to pharm. sales reps simply becuase they don't have time to deal with them. She works for a company that insists on obeying government regulations and her conscience wouldn't allow her to work for a company that deals with physicians unethically. Because of that, her job is more demanding because she doesn't rely on gimmicks or unethical procedures in order to obtain access to physicians. Only "face to face" contact with doctors "counts" as a contact...... so..... she rises early in the morning to take breakfast to offices because that's her opportunity to make this face-to-face contact with physicians and she works late into the evenings hosting "drug sponsored educational dinners" for the same reason. She drives as far as 2 hours away from home to visit physician offices in her territory. Additionally, she's up late with computer work , logging in call notes from the day, ordering samples & supplies, working on budgets, etc... and she has numerous conference phone calls that consume more work hours... and business meetings that take her out of town. The job has provided the financing for her husband to complete grad school but.... now that he's graduated and recently begun his career.... she's hoping to get pregnant... and when the baby arrives, she's planning to quit!

    She's worked with nurses in drug sales and also those with a MSN who are in the educational division of the company. I've met many, many drug reps over the years while working in my husband's office. Some of them have been former nurses who had burned out from years of hospital nursing and wanted to do something different for a change.

    The pharmaceutical industry has changed quite a lot over recent years. There aren't quite the same perks there were 10-15 years ago when there were fewer representatives. Now there are so many sales reps that the salaries aren't as high and bonuses not as nice as 15 years ago. With so many drug reps hitting the doctors offices, they appear more irritating to physicians who don't want to give up patient care time to spend with drug reps.... so the drug reps have to develop tough skin, knowing they won't always be well received. Busy primary care physicians really don't have time to listen to salesmen try to convince them why their "latest and greatest" new drug is so much better than the last one that just came out 6 months earlier but was working just fine for their patients.

    My daughter will tell you that the pressure of the job all depends on your manager. She's had a couple of great managers and some who were high pressured, charging, dictatorial, ones who demanded she sell drugs the same way you'd sell used cars. She's well aware that method doesn't work with physicians so it's caused conflicts, at times. Also, with the federal government cracking down on how drug companies can approach doctors and what money they can spend to persuade physicians to prescribe their drugs, the pressure all falls down the line on the drug reps to be even more persuasive. Most companies our daughter interviewed with DID want someone with prior sales experience. Getting into the pharm. sales industry is very competitive. They look at GPA, prior work experience, extra curricular activities, leadership qualities, driving records, etc. I think it IS advantageous to have a medical background and to have some association with the medical profession already simply because people have to get over feeling intimidated by physicians in order to be able to communicate effectively with them about their products.

    Our daughter has lived in 3 different towns and her company transfered her with each move. It's been a good company to work for and she's been grateful for the job these past 6 years. She's just not at all in love with it and thinks people tend to over-glamorize the whole idea. She's constantly being called by young college students from her alma mater who want to know how to get into pharmaceutical sales. They all believe "what they've heard" about the great salaries, trips, bonuses, hanging out with doctors, etc. and haven't heard the real truth of the long hours, hard work, high pressure to sale, doctors who "hit" on female reps, how difficult it is to get appointments to see physicians, or about how the industry has changed in recent years.

    By the way... selling drugs in offices versus selling higher-end drugs in hospitals are 2 totally different experiences. You have to work your way up the ladder to get a "specialty drug" to sell to hospitals. Our daughter has been offered that but it meant moving again.. which she didn't want to do. Also... selling medical equipment is another different ballgame and will bring much higher profit than selling drugs...(and much less frederal regulations).....hence better salaries. (We have friends who do that, too.)

    Bottom line.... if what turns your crank is patient care, then pharmaceutical sales isn't going to make your heart sing. Your contact is simply going to be with doctors and office managers while you drop off samples of drugs and/or try to convince doctors and nurse practitioners to prescribe your product... defend your product when they question you about why they should bother trying yours over another one, etc. Every once in a while you might get a few nice physicians who will allow you to educate them, and then you'll be in the role of educator... but that's the ideal.. not the norm. If that sounds like something that appeals to you, and you enjoy dressing in business clothes instead of scrubs, however, earn your BSN first, get some positive work experience that would guarantee great recommendations.... and ask some drug reps to take your resume to the company. The people who get hired are usually people who have been recommended by fellow drug reps. (That's how our daughter got an interview). She was a 4.0 type honor graduate from a well known private school with all kinds of leadership awards, extra curricular activities, and had even published a scholarly paper as an under-graduate. However... it took another sales rep. hand carrying her resume to his manager and saying, "you really need to look as this girl" that gained her an interview.

    Good luck to you. Nursing provides lots of opportunities for variety in the job market. You don't have to choose just one area for life. Many people start in one area and then switch to something else after a few years.. either from boredom, burn-out, or from just wanting to try something new. Most nurses we know who went into pharm sales did so after they burned out doing floor nursing or some other type of "high emotional needs" type nursing.
  3. by   dream'n
    I have the feeling that the market for Pharmaceutical Reps is going to get smaller over the next 5 or so years. I have already seen it first-hand. The regulations get tighter, and as Reps aren't able to supply the same 'perks,' more Drs. are not willing to see them. Also, more Dr. offices are not stocking patient samples (due to even more, but different regulations.) Additionally, Americans are fed up with the price of medications, why should they pay Much more for the same drug, manufactured by the same company, than others in Canada or Mexico. Drug companies are coming under increasing public/political pressure to cut costs and pass that savings on to the consumer. The office I work in now sees No Reps. They still attempt to come on occassion, but they never get any time with the Drs., and the nurses just seem to grab the free pens/pads and run.
    By the way, I have never seen an overweight, average-looking, or older Drug Rep. Kind of sad...
    Last edit by dream'n on Oct 23, '06
  4. by   dt335263
    Pharm sales is a good profession for someone who doesn't already have a profession. It is not a good step for a nurse to make because it is a step way down...

    As a pharm rep your job is to market the product and educate the providers about how the product can be used effectively. This involves alot of sucking up...buying lunches to get the staff to come and listen...paying for parties and small research projects, etc. I advise you to forget it.

    What you may wish to consider appears to be along the same lines but it is a valid path your nursing experience could take you, if you want to enter private industry. That is, working as a Clinical Specialist for device companies...for example, in the Cardiac Cath Lab, there are devices (new gadgets used in the procedure) and new equipment like monitors and ultrasound machines, etc that need someone clinical to show how to use it...it involves staff training in inservices, in clinical settings and very often in the Investigator meetings scheduled in those nice out-of-town locations.
    They expect you to have expertise in the clinical area and then they will train you on their product.

    Another rapidly growing field is research...I have been in research for 20 years and it is growing to be a full profession, in it's own right but for licensed professionals it can provide stimulating and good-paying work for a long time. The professional organization is ACRP and, if you google it, you can learn much more about the research field.

    But, stay away from Pharm sales...
  5. by   augigi
    Everything depends on the company you work for, and their philosophies. I work for a medical device company (not in sales, but as a medical science liaison manager) and we just don't have this kind of thing. As a clinical specialist, we attended hospitals and gave educational presentations, attended implants etc. We do take docs and study coordinators out to dinner, but that's to thank them for their participation in our trials. There are ethical restraints by the regulators as to the value of dinners etc permitted.

    The sales girls earn good money and commissions. I wouldn't want to do it because I'm not a "schmoozer" who likes sales, but it's a great job for those who are.

    Background in nursing, esp in the area related to the medical device is a huge bonus and usually a requirment for our sales/clinical people.
  6. by   ohiorn_78
    The whole thing I read earlier in the post about drug reps doing ANYTHING to get docs to prescribe their drugs is so shockingly true. I am personal friends with a local physician that states he has slept with a few of these young, hot pharm. reps. I was appalled and have no respect for these kind of people. :trout:

    My goal eventually is to be a NP. I feel sorry for the young reps who try to prance in my office pushing that theme. I would take the old 53 year-old guy who doesn't have the same motives anyday over some strapping hunk with empty promises.

    This whole thread has left a sour taste in my mouth for the pharm sales rep. YUCK!!
  7. by   chestrockwell
    Quote from ohiorn_78
    The whole thing I read earlier in the post about drug reps doing ANYTHING to get docs to prescribe their drugs is so shockingly true. I am personal friends with a local physician that states he has slept with a few of these young, hot pharm. reps. I was appalled and have no respect for these kind of people. :trout:

    My goal eventually is to be a NP. I feel sorry for the young reps who try to prance in my office pushing that theme. I would take the old 53 year-old guy who doesn't have the same motives anyday over some strapping hunk with empty promises.

    This whole thread has left a sour taste in my mouth for the pharm sales rep. YUCK!!
    Let me see if I understand. You maintain a personal friendship with a physician that sleeps with multiple sales reps who call on him, but have no respect for the sales reps? I think you should have more of a problem with your sleazy doctor friend.
  8. by   tridil2000
    Quote from chestrockwell
    Let me see if I understand. You maintain a personal friendship with a physician that sleeps with multiple sales reps who call on him, but have no respect for the sales reps? I think you should have more of a problem with your sleazy doctor friend.

  9. by   Epona
    I have enjoyed reading this post. I too have worked in sales. Not medical sales, but sales none-the-less. I can share with you what I have experienced. Most of the people hired were young, thin, and attractive. They had to be smooth talkers and do "extras" for their clients... buy them dinner, get them sports tickets, take them to concerts, etc. Sales WAS SO HARD. In all my sales jobs I did well, surprisingly, as I am a good talker (Broadcasting background), but I am an up-front, this is how it is kind of person. Not a good schmoozer at all. I really did not like it. It did not fit my personality and I do not miss it at all. I was on commission only so if I did not sell, I did not eat. THAT was stressful. I had big "goals" to hit like $18,000 a month selling packages that STARTED at $2,000 each. I sold to ma's and pa's and most of them did not have that kind of money for advertising. Salespeople dropped like flys in the office. I lasted almost a year, but it was stressful. Funny, most of the salespeople who did well were young, pretty, thin girls. I sometimes wonder what they did to reach all their goals and then some. Sales is a TOUGH business. Some people are good at it. Most aren't.
  10. by   Multicollinearity
    Quote from Epona
    I have enjoyed reading this post. I too have worked in sales. Not medical sales, but sales none-the-less. I can share with you what I have experienced. Most of the people hired were young, thin, and attractive. They had to be smooth talkers and do "extras" for their clients... buy them dinner, get them sports tickets, take them to concerts, etc. Sales WAS SO HARD. In all my sales jobs I did well, surprisingly, as I am a good talker (Broadcasting background), but I am an up-front, this is how it is kind of person. Not a good schmoozer at all. I really did not like it. It did not fit my personality and I do not miss it at all. I was on commission only so if I did not sell, I did not eat. THAT was stressful. I had big "goals" to hit like $18,000 a month selling packages that STARTED at $2,000 each. I sold to ma's and pa's and most of them did not have that kind of money for advertising. Salespeople dropped like flys in the office. I lasted almost a year, but it was stressful. Funny, most of the salespeople who did well were young, pretty, thin girls. I sometimes wonder what they did to reach all their goals and then some. Sales is a TOUGH business. Some people are good at it. Most aren't.
    Bold emphasis, my own. Epona, I understand your perspective. I, too, was in sales as an insurance broker for ten years. I still sell a few policies on the side to supplement my income while I am a full-time student.

    I obviously did not experience your office first hand. However, I have heard the success of some attractive young women in sales attributed to what you are implying. I didn't like the implication when I was a young, attractive (still am?) salesperson, and I don't like it now. Several years ago I overheard some fellow agents implying that I sold so much that I must be doing some special favors for my male clients. I felt so demeaned and disrespected. Years ago in another setting I heard the success of a women attributed to this also.

    I would attribute the success of these attractive young women to their own hard work and to bias within the general population towards attractive people. In addition, it is known that on average, women out-perform men in sales. Social psychology explains and attributes this to society perceiving women as more trustworthy and/or honest than men.

    I worked extremely hard like you. I called my daily life living as "anchor woman" because it involved looking and acting like that 10 hours per day every day. Stressful, indeed.

    -------------------------------------------------------

    Onto the physician who says he has slept with a several reps from another post. As these type of men are legends in their own minds, I would reduce "a few reps" to one, perhaps two reps. There is most definately more going on with the story that we will never know.

    This notion that women in sales are sleeping with their clients is just so "out there" and about as true as "women become nurses to hook a doctor for a husband." These myths are disrespectful to women in both fields.
    Last edit by Multicollinearity on Mar 10, '07 : Reason: comment about about physician who sleeps with reps
  11. by   galapcp
    I have been in the pharmaceutical and diagnostics sales for 10 years and I can say that I have learned a lot and I have earned a lot as well. However, if you are going to sales (pharma or diagnostics), you have to be ready to embrace it all with all your heart and soul. It is really worth it if you are the top performer because the company will really treat you well. But once you don't hit your target, you will be treated like dirt, as if you did not contribute at all to the growth of the company. And one more thing, there are doctors and bosses out there who are really bullies. But there are also few who are not. You have to prepare to stomach everything because if not, you will develop hatred in sales. Hey, being in sales is very honorable. Just go with the flow, learn to dance with the wolves!!! Before going into sales, think it over many times because it is not all roses, there are thorns along the way too. On the other hand, I guess that goes the same way to whatever career you choose.
    Last edit by galapcp on Apr 11, '07
  12. by   SiennaGreen
    I can't say I read all of the previous responses, but I am a second career woman moving into nursing OUT OF a Pharmaceutical career. It just depends on what you are in it for. I always felt like I was just making money for the man. They tried to sell you on the idea that you were 'doing good for the world' by providing DRs with the information they needed to make the best decisions for their patients care...blah, blah, blah. You were making your sales goals for the bonus money and to put it back into the pockets of the shareholders. I always felt like I had sold my soul.
  13. by   teeituptom
    Quote from ohiorn_78
    The whole thing I read earlier in the post about drug reps doing ANYTHING to get docs to prescribe their drugs is so shockingly true. I am personal friends with a local physician that states he has slept with a few of these young, hot pharm. reps. I was appalled and have no respect for these kind of people. :trout:

    My goal eventually is to be a NP. I feel sorry for the young reps who try to prance in my office pushing that theme. I would take the old 53 year-old guy who doesn't have the same motives anyday over some strapping hunk with empty promises.

    This whole thread has left a sour taste in my mouth for the pharm sales rep. YUCK!!
    You can argue ethical behaviour. But doesnt it boil down to what happens between consenting adults.

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