University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Office of Primary Care and Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program

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We offer two workshops on pharmaceutical marketing – Direct to Consumer Marketing and Prescriber Marketing. We have delivered over 30 of these workshops to audiences in Maine, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire. We have a DVD of our workshop materials including video clips, instructors manual, handouts, evaluation forms, and a workshop guide for faculty interested in running workshops at their institutions.

Prescriber Marketing

In this interactive workshop participants review the history of drug development, discuss the marketing strategies of the pharmaceutical industry, and discuss ways that prescribers can reduce the influence of industry marketing on their prescribing practices. We use an actor trained as a pharmaceutical representative to sell the audiences on a medication. We then discuss the subtle communication skills used by the representative and how they can influence our prescribing.

Consumer Marketing

This interactive workshop reviews the economic impact and changes in the patient-clinician relationship as a result of the expansion of pharmaceutical marketing into the broadcast media in 1997. We have an actress who plays the role of a patient asking for a medication seen on television. We then review strategies for handling patient requests for advertised medications and reliable resources for consumers.

Workshop Sample with Video

Handling Patient Requests

When a patient asks for a medication that they saw on television and the clinician has reservations about this medication, a common strategy would be to talk the patient out of this choice by providing a rationale and offering another treatment option.

Click here to play a clip from our workshop.

Unfortunately research shows half of patients will be disappointed if they do not receive the medication requested and some will seek care elsewhere if they do not get it. Furthermore, research suggests that clinicians, possibly responding to this tension, fill nearly 75% of these requests, even though they don’t see many of these requested medications as the most appropriate options for the patients.

A Positive Alternative

In the workshop we explore a number of strategies for negotiating this challenging situation. The following is one approach, based on motivational interviewing. Motivational interviewing is a communication style that has been shown to be helpful for making treatment decisions with patients regarding sensitive topics where conflict could occur such as weight loss and substance abuse.

Click here to play a clip where we show how motivational interviewing may be used to empower the patient to participate in the treatment decision as the clinician explores what options would work best for her.

Last modified August 12 2016 01:40 PM