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Though Most Physicians Support a Ban on Collecting PrescribingInformation, Only a Fraction Have Used PDRP to Restrict Rx DataAccess

NEW YORK, Feb. 21, 2007--More than half of physicians support a total ban on collecting personal prescribing information and want more aggressive actions taken to protect their prescribing privacy, according to TNS Healthcare research released today.  In spite of these strong feelings, just 4% have used the AMA’s Prescription Data Restriction Program (PDRP) to opt out of having their prescribing information released to pharmaceutical sales representatives, and only 29% plan to take advantage of the opt-out option.  The largest group of physicians—44%—say they will wait and decide later what to do about PDRP. 

Opt-out plans vary widely across specialty groups.  Endocrinologists are most likely to take action through PDRP, with 47% either having already opted out or planning to do so.  On the other end of the spectrum, neurologists appear least likely to respond to PDRP, with just under a quarter either having already opted out or planning to take action.   

“There is a discrepancy between the amount of concern physicians express about protecting their prescribing privacy and their plans to take action through PDRP,” says Andrew Brana, Consultant, Sales Performance Services for TNS Healthcare.  “For instance, gastroenterologists have among the highest percentage of doctors in favor of more aggressive action to protect prescribing privacy, with a full 60% in favor of a total ban on prescribing data.  Yet just 5% have opted out through PDRP, and only 32% have any plans to take advantage of the opt-out option. 

“The large number of physicians taking a ‘wait and see’ approach—ranging from 39% of neurologists to 49% of psychiatrists—indicates that doctors are still unsure of whether PDRP is the right answer to the issue.  Although the vast majority of physicians—79%—say they are uncomfortable knowing that sales reps have data on their prescribing behavior, only a small fraction of these doctors have used PDRP to block sales rep access to their prescription records.”

PDRP is the AMA’s attempt to fend off the rising trend of state legislation that would prohibit or restrict the gathering and sale of physician-specific prescription information.  Under PDRP, physicians are able to opt out of having their individual prescribing data released to pharmaceutical sales representatives and their first-line managers. 

PDRP Awareness High across All Specialties

Although few physicians have taken action, most are aware of PDRP.  TNS Healthcare unaided awareness research shows that more than 80% of physicians know about the new program, even though few have acted on it.

Over-Aggressive Sales Tactics Linked to PDRP Action

The factor that appears most closely linked to physicians’ PDRP opt-out plans is their experience with overly aggressive sales tactics.  Overall, 38% of doctors report being victims of overly aggressive sales pitches.  That percentage soars to 51% for endocrinologists—the specialty with the highest proportion of physicians planning to opt out through PDRP.  Conversely, just 13% of neurologists report experiencing overly aggressive sales tactics—with neurologists also showing the smallest proportion of doctors planning to take action through PDRP. 

Primary care physicians fall in between those two extremes, with 39% reporting overly aggressive sales tactics.  They also fall in between in terms of their PDRP activity, with just about a third either having opted out or planning to opt out of providing their prescribing data to sales reps.

Physicians Much More Comfortable Sharing Their Own Prescribing Data

Although most physicians favor a ban on collecting prescribing data from secondary sources, such as pharmacies, the majority of doctors are comfortable sharing that information themselves with pharmaceutical companies.  An overwhelming 85% would be willing to provide information on their prescribing practices to the pharmaceutical industry through market research questionnaires.

Most physicians also would be comfortable having pharmaceutical companies share this self-reported information with their field forces.  About two-thirds of primary care physicians, cardiologists, neurologists and gastroenterologists say they would be willing to have pharmaceutical companies provide self-reported prescribing information to sales representatives.  Endocrinologists are significantly less comfortable, with just 43% saying they would be willing to share self-reported prescribing practices with reps.

“Endocrinologists’ hesitancy to share even self-reported information with reps most
likely links back to their negative sales experiences,” says Jonathan Kay, COO of
TNS Healthcare.  “More than half report overly-aggressive sales practices, perhaps explaining the deeper concerns endocrinologists have about reps having access to any
kind of prescribing data—even self reported.”

1,000 Physicians Weigh in on Their PDRP Plans

TNS Healthcare’s findings are based on a January 2007 Internet survey of 1,001 doctors—500 primary care physicians, 100 cardiologists, 100 neurologists, 100 gastroenterologists, 100 endocrinologists and 101 psychiatrists.  All physicians were recruited from TNS Healthcare’s J Street Physician Internet panel.

About TNS…        

TNS is a market information group:

• The world’s largest provider of custom research and analysis 
• A leader in political and social polling
• A major supplier of consumer panel, media intelligence and TV and radio audience   measurement services. 

TNS operates across a global network in over 70 countries, providing internationally consistent, up-to-the-minute and high quality information and analysis.

The group’s employees deliver innovative thinking and excellent service to local and multi-national clients worldwide.  In the custom business, they combine in-depth sector knowledge with expertise in the areas of new product development, positioning and segmentation research, brand and advertising research and stakeholder management. 

TNS’ strategic goal is to be recognized as the global leader in delivering value added information and insights that help our clients make more effective decisions.

TNS is the sixth sense of business.

About TNS Healthcare…

TNS Healthcare provides market research consulting to the worldwide pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries, as well as health-focused ad agencies, media and analysts.  It offers globally consistent solutions and custom advisory services to support product introductions; brand, treatment and sales performance optimization; and physician and DTC promotional assessment.

Informing decisions across the life cycle, TNS Healthcare offers action-ready insights for pre-launch landscaping, market and opportunity assessment, segmentation, positioning, message and campaign creation, pricing, forecasting, attitude and awareness measurement and post-launch tracking.  It delivers information across stakeholders—including physicians, patients and consumers—to help companies anticipate and impact customers’ behaviors.  TNS Healthcare provides both qualitative and quantitative offerings, using traditional and on-line methodologies, combining worldwide reach with local expertise.

Posted: February 2007