Monday, July 13, 2009

Memories of Drug Reps Gone By

I guess I've been around long enough to remember when the same drug reps used to drop in at least once a month. Some years ago I even remember the Tylenol (!) guy dropping in regularly with a satchel full of samples for us (ah, those were the days....) not to mention other stuff, edible and otherwise. Some of these drug reps were real characters. A visit from them broke up the tedium of the day.

What I miss more is the information these hardy veterans could provide. They knew their products inside and out. Especially the devices like the inhalers, sprays, patches, self-injecting devices, test kits, etc. They could give you really practical information to show the customers and help them trouble-shoot problems. And if they couldn't answer a question they would actually make an attempt to get back to you. Don't get me wrong, I know their main goal was to sell stuff, but some of them actually seemed like they wanted to help.

We don't see too many drup reps these days. I guess it's kind of a dying profession, since (a) their access is being cut off, and (b) the companies they work for aren't really coming out with anything 'new' anymore. We saw one a few weeks ago who promised to get back to us on a question we had, and never did. I e-mailed the address on the business card --- no response. That just kind of bugs me. You don't know who to call anymore and if you leave a message no one returns it. They'll throw a bunch of coupons at you for some hideously expensive product, and pump you for information about your doctors' prescribing habits, but they don't seem to know much about their products in any sort of practical sense.

Anyway, I'll keep trying to find out why the package says not to use your Ventolin HFA inhaler for longer than 6 months after taking it out of the pouch. Or whether you can use the 4mg Imitrex injection cartridges with the same auto-injector device as the 6mg. Or how I can replace my broken Diskus demonstrator so I can attempt to show people how to use their Advair and Serevent.

Just feeling nostalgic today.....


was1 said...

It burns my ass when I get a sales call on the phone. Always on Monday mornings, too. I can't help but be rude to these people. I ask them why they don't know better than to call a pharmacy during the busiest time of the busiest day of the week. I like talking to the reps who visit me and I always try to make time for them. But those who do it only by phone will get no help or support from me.

Anonymous said...

Please pass this info along to all of your friends and family.
New FDA Policy Endangers Respiratory Patients

Ozone-friendly inhalers could face early demise

Benefits vague, problems clear in inhaler ban

Asthma Patients Outraged at Indifference to Problems with New Inhalers:

Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee: FDA "Insensitive" to Asthma Patients' Problems:

The number of patient complaints is skyrocketing:

Read the thousands of complaints at this petition:

Patients at are reporting HFA inhalers as "useless" with a rating of 1.2 on
a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the best and 1 being the worst:

You can only wonder if the FDA is trying to kill asthmatics:

These quotes taken directly from the new drug application for Ventolin HFA.

"In the multiple dose adolescent and adult studies, albuterol HFA showed a numerically smaller improvement in FEV1 than was seen with albuterol CFC"

"There was other evidence that the HFA formulation delivers a lower/less effective dose on a per acutation basis than the CFC product. In the single dose, dose ranging study in adults, and in the single dose methacholine challenge study in adults one and two acutations of albuterol CFC were statistically indistinguishable in terms of effect, whereas significant differences were seen between one and two acutations of albuterol HFA. Finally, the combined adolescent/adult studies showed that the HFA formulation had a longer median time to onset of effect(4.2-9.6 minutes versus 3.6-4.2 minutes), had a shorter duration of effect(1.55-3.30 hours versus 2.29 - 3.69 hours), and was associated with more albuterol 'back up' use than the CFC formulation."

"We note that in the two 12 week clinical trials in adolescents and adults, Ventolin HFA Inhalation Aerosol consistently showed a smaller effect size than Ventolin CFC Inhalation Aerosol"

"Because it is expected that many physicians will prescribe Ventolin HFA Inhalation Aerosol for patients who have previously used the CFC formulation, it would be appropriate to include some description of the relative effectiveness of these two formulations in the product label."

"Unfavorable changes in physical examinations were observed in the ears, nose, and throat category as follows: 8% placebo HFA; 13% albuterol HFA; and 5% albuterol CFC."

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Hell, I miss them taking me to skybox parties at sports events. That got cut in 2002.

Now they can't even give us a freaking pen.

Shalom said...

I dunno who this Anonymous is or why s/he chose to dump all these links on your blog here, we all know the new inhalers don't work as well already. But I have one question on a related matter:

When R-12 (the old CFC propellant) was outlawed for use in new car air conditioners, a computer engineer and amateur chemist named George H. Goble (who, incidentally, achieved infamy in 1996 by using liquid oxygen to light his barbecue grill and bring it to cooking temperature in three seconds) came up with a drop-in replacement designated R-406a, known variously as GHG-X7, Hot Shot or Autofrost, depending on manufacturer. It has physical properties close enough to R-12 to be a direct substitute.

So how come they can't use that in the inhalers, instead of the R-134a that just doesn't work as well? Is it just that they can't be arsed to submit an NDA, or is it a more nefarious reason, like they don't mind that the inhalers get clogged after one week, so they can sell more of them? I've often wondered.

Phathead said...

I actually know(knew) the answer to that Ventolin question. I'll e-mail one of our pharmacists in a bit and see if she can jog my memory because we called and asked the same question.

I miss the free pens. I about cried the first time I had to buy pens for work.

Phathead said...

I actually know(knew) the answer to that Ventolin question. I'll e-mail one of our pharmacists in a bit and see if she can jog my memory because we called and asked the same question.

I miss the free pens. I about cried the first time I had to buy pens for work.

Frantic Pharmacist said...

Let me know if you find out the answer. I understand they are going to change the recommendation to 1 year but I would still like to know what the reason is.

Sarah G said...

I got my Diskus example inhaler from an allergist in the area. They had the mother-load of example devices. You may want to try hitting one of them up, esp. if you fill a lot of their patients' scripts.