In the second part of this new series, an oncologist, referred to as Doctor B, tells pharmaphorum's Rebecca Aris how he prefers to engage with the pharma industry and how this engagement process could be improved.
In order to get honest feedback, we shall be keeping the doctors anonymous in this series.
RA: What information do you most need regularly from the pharma industry?
DB: We need information on side effects that have been pointed out and reported. This should be published to us so that we can accordingly mould our practice.
RA: How would you like the information to be shared with you?
DB: We complement each other - the pharma industry and doctors. If the pharma industry doesn't develop the drug, we cannot use it.
Pharma has got experience in the different stages of the drug's trials but we, at the other end of the scale, use the drug when it is generalised and open to the world population and have more experience there. So we need a two-way communication.
It can be via the media, it can be via the internet, it can be via British National Formulary (BNF) licence, it can be in the medical press, but information has to be clear, clean, and open to everyone involved – pharmacy, the pharma industry, medical personnel, and the users of the drug – the patients..
"It can be via media, it can be via internet, it can be via BNF licence, it can be in the medical press, but information has to be clear, clean, and open..."
RA: How do you want to be able to feedback to pharma or ask any ad hoc questions?
DB: Usually in the good old days of the BNF, we use to call it yellow form, we used to fill out those forms and send it to BNF at the postal address.
That way, when any new drug effect or not known effect (not sure what that means) happened to one of our patients, we knew we should report it to the pharma company that developed the drug, and that effect would be published or broadcast to doctors using it. I like this method of feedback.
RA: In the digital age do we still need pharma sales reps and why?
DB: In the digital age everything is in front of the screen, but the man behind the machine is still important. I can't necessarily go through all my emails for the day and so may miss electronic communication.
If pharma representatives come to see us, we automatically talk about the drug they want to promote, and once we've had the discussion with them we know the effects and side effects, and predicted use, and everything we need to know.
The good old days were when the rep was the only media, and we have since moved to a more digital age, but drug rep remains important.
"In the digital age everything is in front of the screen, but the man behind the machine is still important."
RA: If you could completely redesign the way that doctors and the pharma industry interact what would this look like?
DB: I think we should all be under one umbrella. Somehow there should be a gold umbrella covering industry, doctors and the users of pharmaceutical products.
That might take time, but I would welcome a co-relationship between the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry and would be happy to be involved.
RA: Thank you very much for taking part.
The next interview in this series can be found here.
About the interviewee:
Doctor B is a male Oncologist.
This article was coordinated by Doctors.net.uk, the UK's largest professional network of doctors. Available to UK-registered doctors in primary and secondary care, Doctors.net.uk is an effective digital channel and a trusted source of medical education, research and communication. It is used by approximately 40,000 doctors every day.
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