Pharmaceutical industry is one of the progressive sectors in Bangladesh economy. It contributes 1% to the country’s GDP and is the third largest industry in terms of contribution to government revenue. The current market size is about 12,100 million with having almost persistently double-digit growth. The market is almost self-sufficient in meeting local demand as 97% of the drugs are manufactured locally and is exporting to 92 countries. There are 267 licensed pharmaceutical companies in Bangladesh for manufacturing the pharmaceutical products. The market is principally driven by the prescriptions of doctors, and company personnel tries to motivate doctors to prescribe their own company brands by personal selling, clinical meetings, seminars, symposia, etc..
Medical sales representatives, commonly known as ‘reps’ are a strategic link between healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies. They promote the sale of the products manufactured by their employer companies. The products include medicines, prescription drugs and medical equipment, which are being promoted to a wide range of professionals from pharmacists and nurses to general practitioners and hospital doctors. They work very tactfully to increase the awareness and use as well as sells of promoted products.
Recruitment: During recruitment employers prefers science graduates with relaxation the criteria on the basis of experience and company ranking. After recruitment, usually employers train them to be presentable in regards to the company marketing policy, which is mostly dominated by marketing and human resource department. After a successful training period, reps are appointed in the vacant territory of the company, provided with sample carrying bag, motorbike, mobile handset and a SIM card. The graduates in the field of life sciences, pharmacy, medicine, nursing and dentistry get extra attention while the appointment as a rep. A business or marketing degree may also be helpful, especially if accompanied by some knowledge of medical sales.
Daily work: Unlike the other jobs, reps are bound to pass a very busy life and they have to perform the bi-phasic duty. Phase-1 starts at 8 am, when they have to report their bosses for daily work plan as well as previous day sells and call performance for about half to one hour. Then, they move to their working institutional gate to convey greetings with their fixed physicians while they enter into their offices in the morning. After that, they prepare themselves adequately to make calls to the targeted physicians with targeted products by detailing or presenting materials supplied by marketing department of the company. During entering into the physician’s chamber for making a call, most of the time, they have to satisfy the attendant of the physician, gatekeeper of the hospital, sister attending the physicians and others who have accessibility to the physicians to the extent of motivation. Usually, morning shift ends around 2 pm with the completion of communications with the pharmacy man to ensure their persistent sells order adjacent to the institute. The second phase starts at 5 pm with reporting to the supervisor followed by taking sells orders from the pharmacy man. At this phase, they have played very crucial role to satisfy the order-giving persons as they have an immense role in selling their products. In Bangladesh pharmacy men play a significant role as they can routinely change the brand of the prescribed product so, they used to take tolls from the company people especially from the reps. Then, their responsibility is to make calls to their fixed doctors with prioritized brands in accordance to the physicians preferable time. Usually, this phase ends at about 11 pm. Regarding holiday, they usually get 1 or 2 holidays in a month as because they have to visit the weekly visiting physicians in the weekends. In Bangladesh, physicians have a tendency to run holiday chambers remote from their working institute and for this holiday chambers they can promote the prescription drugs immensely.
Overall Life: In Bangladesh, their life is not so smooth and their job satisfaction not very high. They have to work with very strict sales target, which is often refreshed monthly and a constant push from the marketing department of the company. Nevertheless, they poor have their job security. If they can’t reach the target, they are transferred to another section and sometimes may lose their job.
Their process of selling involves getting in touch with the potential customers and detecting their necessities. They do not sell products directly to buyers as the vendors do, rather patients pay for prescription drugs and physicians control their access. They persuade the physicians to prescribe particular drugs from their companies and ensure that they are following their guidelines. To keep the doctors motivated on their companies, they offer gifts adjusting with the rank, the number of regular patients and social status of the physicians; on behalf of the company marketing strategy. It is firmly believed that increasing visits by medical representatives increase the prescription rate of a particular drug. They are trained well to assess physicians’ personalities, drug preference and practice styles. They remember the physicians’ family life, professional interests and important occasions to celebrate important occasions and thus keeping them motivated. Broadly, reps arrange appointments with doctors, pharmacists and hospital medical teams, which include pre-arranged appointments or regular ‘cold’ calling: make presentations to doctors and pharmacists in the retail sector. They also organize CMEs, conferences for doctors and other medical staff; building and maintaining positive working relationships with medical staff and supporting administrative staff; keep detailed records of all contacts; reach (and if possible exceeding) annual sales targets; plan work schedules and weekly, monthly timetables; regularly attending company meetings. They have be keep themselves up to date with the latest clinical data supplied by the company, and interpret, present and discuss this data with health professionals during presentations; monitor competitor activity and competitors’ products; maintain knowledge of new developments in the National Health Service (NHS), anticipate potential negative and positive impacts on the business and adapting strategy accordingly.
Benefits: The profession provides benefits to the reps in different angles such as monthly fixed salary, incentives for target achievements, yearly bonus, quarterly bonus, trips for the achievers and other such monetary benefits that vary from a company to another company. The reps also get mobile allowances, transport allowances and other such field work related allowances. Companies arrange regular training for the personal development of reps. Promotion to superior responsibility, salary and facility structure grossly vary from a company to another company. Many pharmaceutical companies are multinational, providing some opportunities to work abroad.
As the pharmaceutical companies basically hard regarding sales target achievement from the medical representatives without considering their personal life, medical representatives are not completely satisfied in most cases.
Medical reps have an important role in the company growth and they are working in a hyper competitive market in Bangladesh with intense sales pressure, very little holiday, huge job insecurity and very little time to be with family.