Tue | Jan 23, 2018

The ‘prescribed’ salespersons

Published:Sunday | January 15, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Detailing Doctors book cover

Author: Dr. Tomlin J. Paul

Reviewer: Dr Pauline Williams-Green

The title says it all; or does it? Tomlin Paul has been a prominent, experienced family physician for more than 30 years. He applies his enquiring mind to a regular feature of family practice: the visit of pharmaceutical representatives. With an eye for details, he zooms in on the brief but regular encounters between doctors and pharmaceutical sales representatives (often called med reps).

I find this self-published book astonishing! In just under 100 pages, Tomlin elaborates on the spiel of the med reps. Chapter one starts with Paul's ruminations after a typical Sunday afternoon dinner of chicken and rice and peas. He reflects on the glamorous appeal of a "medical representative" as presented in the job advertising pages and points out the "nitty gritty" of their job description.

He shares the inner world of the doctors who are bombarded by hundreds of products yearly. He provides an honest appraisal of the strategies sales personnel employ to "create a prescribing convert" of the general practice doctor. He discusses how to make an "entrance;" balancing small talk versus product information; what really happens to the samples of medication left in the office; and how quickly medical literature and charts are reviewed a.k.a. thrown out.




The heart of the book is chapter nine, which focuses on the personality of med. reps. Paul rightly emphasises what family doctors remember about these sales personnel and their products: the personalities. Are they "too chatty?" These make my head hurt. Are they "too bossy?" These get my back up! Are they "too warm and friendly?" These make me uncomfortable. Are they "too fixed in their ways?" These I find annoying!

The final chapters of the book provide a sound foundation for the strategies Paul advocates. In simple terms, he explains the theoretical framework that influences the prescribing practices of doctors. Paul applies the trans-theoretical model of behaviour change to doctors prescribing routines. This is useful guidance for med. reps and doctors alike.

The book is well illustrated by David Ebanks. His cartoons, like pictures are equivalent to a thousand words and accentuate the points in each chapter. Med reps and doctors will resonate with the scenarios presented. Text boxes are artfully used to provide more detailed referenced information.




Who will read this book? Certainly, med reps, their supervisors, and their managers. It is a training manual for pharmaceutical personnel and any sales practitioners who deal with their clients on a one-on-one basis. But it is also an entertaining book for doctors, their patients, and, therefore, the general public. Students in search of a career in science should read this book.

The language is down-to-earth and engaging. Paul captures the reader's interest with the first sentence of each chapter. His commentaries on the doctor/med rep encounters are cleverly constructed with witticisms and even hilarity.

I recommend this book for a Sunday afternoon read just before post-prandial hypnosis takes over.

Price: J$1,500

Available at :

- The UWI Mona Bookshop, UWI, Mona Campus

- Bookophilia, 92 Hope Rd, Kingston

- Books and CDs at Norman Manley International Airport

- Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N9OGY8V/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

The author is a family physician and past president of the Caribbean College of Family Physicians.