The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Physician-Pharmaceutical Office-Based Interactions

Justin W. Marson, Graham H. Litchman, Darrell S. Rigel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: COVID-19 has had significant negative economic ramifications on dermatologic care delivery, including curtailing live on-site physician-pharmaceutical-representative interactions (PPRI). OBJECTIVE: To determine the impact of COVID-19 and pandemic regulations on current and future PPRI. METHODS: Cross-sectional survey-based study that analyzed data from 400 surveyed dermatologists using a pre-validated questionnaire sent via email. Data regarding PPRI were collected over 1 week in July 2020 to compare demographics and practice standards from April 2019, April 2020, July 2020, and predictions for 2021. RESULTS: Virtual-only PPRI increased from 7.8% in April 2019 to 26.5% during April 2020 (mean difference, 18.8%; 95% confidence interval, 13.6%–23.9%). Virtual-only PPRI remained elevated at 24.5% while hybrid PPRI increased, eventually surpassing the April 2019 mark (27.0%). These trends persisted among all studied practice types and levels of experience. Practices predicted no significant percent differences in participation in PPRI (87.3% vs 90.3%; P=0.0834), but a significant shift in method of delivery where the odds ratio of incorporating a virtual component into PPRI in 2021 increased by a factor of 3. LIMITATIONS: Relatively small sample size, especially among subgroups. Responses may have been retrospective estimates. There may also be selection bias given slightly increased representation of more experienced dermatologists. CONCLUSION: PPRI materially decreased during the initial COVID-19 peak but will likely return to baseline volume moving forward with a significant component being hybrid PPRI. Further studies may better elucidate the economic and clinical impact associated with these changes and their effect on dermatologists’ ability to provide patients with samples and educational materials. J Drugs Dermatol. 2021;20(2):215-223. doi:10.36849/JDD.2021.5651.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-223
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Drugs in Dermatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2021


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