Risk From Pharma Reps Using Unapproved Content and Messaging in the Field Persists, but a Focus on Training Could Be the Answer

Study Reveals 50% of respondents in leadership roles catch incidents of field reps using unapproved content, but a continuous learning culture could eliminate this behavior

Toronto, February 23, 2023 – ACTO, the #1 Learning Platform in Life Sciences, today announced the results of a new study that explored the prevalence and impact of the use of inaccurate content and messaging among pharmaceutical field reps, and strategies to combat this behavior. The survey was conducted by Citeline, formerly Pharma Intelligence, on behalf of ACTO.

The research, based on the responses of 192 professionals in Commercial Operations, Learning and Development, and Sales at Biopharmaceutical and Medical Device companies in North America and Europe, revealed valuable insight around the challenges faced by field teams in accessing Medical, Legal, and Regulatory (MLR)-approved content, the consequences of not using compliant messaging, and strategies to overcome these obstacles.

Key findings from the survey:

  • 74% of all respondents believed that at least some of their field force is using unapproved content and messaging.
  • 50% of respondents in leadership roles catch incidents of field reps using unapproved content weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
  • 93% of respondents who encountered field reps using unapproved content experienced a direct negative impact to their company.

“It is surprising that, despite increased regulation and significant investment by biopharmaceutical companies in document and marketing content management systems, that the use of unapproved content and messaging in the field persists,” said Parth Khanna, Co-founder and CEO of ACTO, “After all it takes to bring a new drug to market, this type of risk is the last thing a pharmaceutical company needs.”

When asked how they found out that field teams use unapproved content or messaging, survey respondents indicated it was most commonly via word of mouth (39%) and feedback from sales managers (38%), followed by feedback from HCPs (28%), observed coaching sessions (24%) and unapproved materials crossing their paths (20%).

Considering the impact of field teams using non-compliant content and messaging in the field the overwhelming top concern was its impact on patient safety (29%), followed by compliance breaches (18%), legal challenges (16%), and damage to company reputation and brand (16%).

The survey asked respondents why field teams use unapproved content and messaging, and while the reasons cited were plenty, they centered on three key problem areas: a lack of understanding of the risk associated with using unapproved content, the volume and complexity of content being overwhelming, and the difficulty in finding and accessing approved content.

When asked what the most effective strategies to eliminate the use of unapproved content and messaging in the field, the number one strategy identified by respondents was upholding a culture of continuous learning within the organization.

“The insights from this study suggest there is a huge opportunity for biopharmaceutical companies to eliminate the risk associated with field reps using unapproved content and messaging by focusing on training pull-through,” said Khanna, “Providing learning key takeaways and summaries, following training with scenarios and video coaching, and making approved content and messaging easily available to reps in the flow of work can have a dramatic impact on field compliance and success.”

For the full research results, access the complete report here.

About ACTO

ACTO, the #1 learning platform for Life Sciences, helps educate and engage learners through unified touch points and journeys, which reduces risk, improves efficiency, and boosts effectiveness. With ACTO, commercial and clinical leaders can draw deep, powerful insights to improve performance by consolidating learning into an omnichannel experience.

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Alison Muller, Chief Marketing Officer
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