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UPJOHN DETAILING COST PER OFFICE VISIT IS OVER $ 75

Executive Summary

UPJOHN DETAILING COST PER OFFICE VISIT IS OVER $ 75, VP-Worldwide Pharmaceutical Marketing Peter Seaver said at a Nov. 15 Capitol Hill seminar on prescription drug marketing. The average cost per call on physicians by the firm's detailmen is "accounted for in the area of $ 75," Seaver noted in response to a question from the audience. Seaver pointed out that "the figure I'm going to give you is one that we have used for some time, and it may need to be updated." The current cost is probably higher, he said. Emphasizing the expense of detailing, Seaver pointed out that the cost of the practice was the "most important accounting number" in Upjohn's marketing balance sheet. He noted that the company has roughly 1,000 sales representatives. In response to a question on marketing practices which may improperly influence physician prescribing, Seaver suggested: "The thought that physicians could be influenced by a stethoscope or a bag or even a trip or whatever does a disservice to the medical profession." He had been asked to comment on the Nov. 5 The New York Times Magazine article "Pitching Doctors," which accused pharmaceutical firms of improperly attempting to influence prescribing with gifts. The article also accused companies of beginning the process of influencing doctors as early as medical school. Of bribing or improperly influencing physicians, Seaver stated: "We all have a tendency to judge a group by the worst of its members. The vast majority of physicians that I [called upon] and still interact with would be offended by the practice, would not yield to the practice and would be very dissappointed in us if we had the practice. And so there is a certain element of self-policing because there is a certain element of reason there." Seaver said it is Upjohn's policy to offer assistance to medical interns and residents, who, he pointed out, "are at their hour of greatest need in terms of drug information and . . . of becoming acclimated to their profession." For example, he noted, "there have certainly been times when we have provided funds to residents to go and attend the national residents' meeting of their choice." Seaver added: "Since the time that I've been responsible for national marketing programs in the United States for Upjohn, I have never approved an item going to physicians that had a value of over $ 7.50." In addition, he maintained, "whether it's a calendar . . . or some sort of reminder device, I happen to believe in [such gifts], they help to get our people in . . . and the thought in that [magazine] article that we are somehow currying favor, I find naive."

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