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					                                                        Member Support Services
                                                                Factsheet series

          Medical Sales Representative in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Role description

Medical sales representatives promote specific pharmaceutical brands to encourage
prescription by a doctor or nurse. Their role includes the following activities:

   •   Providing advice and training to health care staff about relevant products
   •   Identifying clients who manage the prescription of or prescribe drugs themselves
   •   Negotiating with health providers to include the pharmaceutical company’s brands in
       local formularies
   •   Liaising and communicating with doctors, nurses and pharmacists
   •   Mentoring, training and developing colleagues or junior staff
   •   Working to performance targets for the sale of relevant products

Experience required

Not all medical sales representatives are nurses, but nurses are in a strong position to apply
for such roles owing to their understanding of pharmacology, disease processes and treatment
programmes. Most employers prefer graduates but those with a strong general background
will also be considered.

Intensive and focused training in the role is given by the employer.

Experience of using presentation and negotiation skills is useful. The ability to work alone
and to be persuasive is also essential.

A clean, current driving licence is essential.

Qualifications that help career progression

For some roles a specialist qualification in a related field may be required, but all employers
offer comprehensive training. A teaching qualification may also be useful.

Information about nursing related courses is available from the NHS Health, Learning and
Skills Advice line (England) and the organisations listed below. (See Sources of information)

Working hours and conditions

Medical sales representatives are employed either directly by the pharmaceutical company, or
by a Contract Pharmaceutical Organisation (CPO). Examples of CPOs include Innovex UK,
Ashfield/Ventiv Health and In2Focus (see below). CPOs manage and employ staff, acting as
an intermediary between the nurse and the pharmaceutical company.

March 2011
                                                     Member Support Services
                                                             Factsheet series

A list of pharmaceutical companies is available at the Association for the British
Pharmaceutical Industry web site (see below).
Hours tend to be regular, Monday, to Friday, but some evening work may be required. Much
time is spent travelling between customers.

Pension arrangements, sickness and maternity pay may not always be as good as in the NHS.
Some employers offer other benefits such as a company car, private medical insurance and
share options.

Related careers in nursing

Research nursing
Nurse adviser in the pharmaceutical industry

Career development options

Many employers offer excellent training opportunities and career progression to management
or more specialist roles.

Sources of information

Raisbeck E (2005) Rewards for challenges, in Nursing Standard,
May 11, vol 19, no 35

Ryan K (2002) Nurses in the pharmaceutical industry (Parts 1 and 2) Unravelling the role of
the Nurse and Adviser and Making the Transition from the NHS.

The Association for the British Pharmaceutical Industry web site

Innovex web site

Ashfield/Ventiv Health web site

In2Focus web site -

NHS Health, Learning and Skills Advice line
Telephone: 08000 150 850
Web site:

NHS Education for Scotland
66 Rose Street

Telephone: 0131 220 8666

March 2011
                                                    Member Support Services
                                                            Factsheet series

Web site:

Northern Ireland Practice and Education Council for Nursing and Midwifery
Centre House
79 Chichester Street

Telephone: 01232 238152
E mail:
Web site:

National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare
Workforce Development Unit (Wales)
Telephone: 01443 233 472
Web site:

                Member Support Services

                Telephone:           0345 408 4391

March 2011