Big Pharma Sales Reps Say Marijuana Legalization Is Positive For Them

According to a March survey done by MedReps, 46% of pharmaceutical sales representatives reported that they expect medical marijuana legalization and stricter opioid laws to have a positive impact on their jobs.

MedReps, an online healthcare sales job site, conducted a survey of 500 sales professionals in medical and pharmaceutical sales, as well as non-medical and non-pharmaceutical sales. The groups were comprised of 44% male and 56 female. Of the groups, 50% were Millennials, 43% were Gen X and 7 percent were Baby Boomers. Occupations surveyed were inside sales reps, field sales reps, directors of sales and sales executives and managers.

In the survey, 50% of pharmaceutical sales reps selling controversial products said they believe the legalization of medical marijuana alone will have a positive impact on their jobs. Products considered controversial were those sometimes negatively portrayed in the media, such as opioids and medical marijuana. The survey found that 62% of reps selling non-controversial products also believe medical marijuana legalization will help their careers.

Even though they believe the opioid crisis and legislation and legalization of medical cannabis will have a positive impact in the future, 89% of pharmaceutical sales reps said they’re nonetheless the biggest challenges facing the industry today.

Another interesting finding of the survey was that only 30% of sales reps who responded think their industry is providing essential products.

Medical marijuana has become a critical focus of the pharmaceutical industry since it’s currently legal in 29 states. An Arcview Group report in September 2017 predicted $24.5 billion in medical marijuana sales by 2021.

Opioids have left a black eye on the pharmaceutical industry, who are now trying desperately to regain the public’s trust. A Blue Cross Blue Shield report on opioids found that addiction had increased by 493% between 2010 and 2016. The federal government, spurred on by this epidemic, is working to enact stricter laws. This has fueled speculation by some in the pharmaceutical industry that those laws and medical cannabis use will go hand-in-hand. Among sales reps who sell controversial products, 38% of respondents believe the opioid legislation will have a positive impact on their jobs, while 43% of those selling non-controversial products think so.

Nearly all of those surveyed thought lack of proper education of controversial products has had an impact on their sales. They stated that doctors should be the main providers of information on medical marijuana, but over half of them—64%—said it’s important that sales reps provide educational resources to the public. 68% believe it’s up to managers and other leaders to educate doctors.

Almost 70% of the pharmaceutical sales reps report that social media attention is the biggest obstacle to their selling controversial products, and 6% say other news and media are to blame.

Negative publicity continues to surround the pharmaceutical industry. Sales reps are being advised in the survey’s report to make educating the public, not selling to them, their top priority. This could be helpful to the cannabis industry, provided that the information they relay is accurate.

Peggi Clough

Peggi Clough

Peggi Clough is a freelance writer and editor whose clients have included Hallmark Cards, Cerner Corporation and Village Voice Media. Prior to freelancing, she was an editor for National Seminars Training. Peggi is committed to fighting for the legalization of medical cannabis in her home state of Missouri.


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