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  • Interview of the Month, August.Arif Schakir, POA Pharma Country Manager Finland, has a solid background for his position.

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    Arif Schakir is the POA Pharma Country Manager Finland.
    He graduated as B. Sc. (Pharmacy)
    in 1983 at the University of Helsinki.
    Arif Schakir lives in Helsinki
    in a common-law marriage and has two daughters.
    He is developing himself at work as well as in his private life.
    – Spending time with my family is important to me. I keep in shape with sports and I like music.
    Arif Schakir, POA Pharma Country Manager Finland, has a solid background for his position.
    With more than 20 years of experience from pharmaceutical industry, healthcare services and strengths brand of pharmacy, Arif Schakir has a strong competence in marketing, project management, product launches, people leading and co-operation in cross-functional international organization.

    He is an active, fast learner person with positive and innovative mindset. He has taken training courses in selling and leadership skills as well in management leading people and coaching.

    Arif Schakir has “seen the world” as a Steward/flight attendant during eight years with Finnair.
    He speaks Finnish, English, Swedish and Turkish.
     
    Arif, how would you characterize Finland from a medical marketing point of view?
    – Finland is generally a nation that thinks before it acts. I guess it lies in our nation’s soul.
    “Wait and see” also goes for the health care sector. The Finnish medical profession is keen on news, but set tough demands on reliable clinical documentation. A healthy scepticism about new drugs and new treatment methods may explain why it sometimes takes time to get them accepted here.  

    – New drugs must first be introduced in, and accepted by, the regional hospital before the GP’ s in the area will start prescribing. Key Opinion Leaders have a strong say in Finland.

    How are the working conditions for the medical rep in Finland?
    – Being a Registered Pharmaceutical Representative (RLE) I am well received and respected. Doctors and nurses know strict requirements  they can trust POA Pharma AB and me. Most pharmaceutical companies require their field staff to be RLE. Reps who still aren’t RLE often are young employees in the introduction phase of their career.
    – I really like my work. After more than a decade in Big Pharma I now belong to a small family. Here in Finland I simply am Mr. POA Pharma. It means a greater responsibility and it creates a “small business owners spirit”.
    – If I fail I cannot blame anyone – if I succeed it is my merit!

    Do you cover the whole of Finland?
    – Yes I do, but most of my working hours are spent in the Helsinki-Turku-Tampere densely populated area.
    – Getting calls is not all that easy. It takes time to get in contact with doctors’ secretaries. My calls are booked by myself or through assistance.

    The system has developed out of the request from the medical profession to organize the contacts with the industry in a more structured and fair way. Individual discussions with one single doctor in a clinic or in a primary health care unit are no longer accepted.
    – In practice this means that my only opportunity to visit important primary care units and hospital clinics are through booking assistance.

    To be a medical rep is to keep repeating the products’ unique selling points. Isn’t that tough?
    – No way! In my job I live by the rule “One doctor call is no doctor call”. In other words one must keep coming back to repeat and remind and inspire. This wisdom is forever etched in my mind. It is a working principle that pays off in the long run. I understood the beauty of this rule early in my career as a medical rep.

    COB

    Finnish Health Care in numbers:

    Inhabitants
    5, 5 millions

    Number of Hospitals
    Round 75.
    5 University hospitals Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Oulu and Kuopio.
    16 Central hospitals and
    56 District hospitals.

    Primary Care Units
    At present cirka 550. The number is being reduced

    GPs
    Around 20 500, 17 percent in private practice

    Pharmacies
    Over 800 hundred

    Pharmacy Chains
    8 bigger ones, some smaller

    Administrative Health Care regions
    At present 21. To be reduced.

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