MSD Korea’s labor and management are again in dispute over the so-called “self-assurance” program, an employee monitoring system via an external agency.
The company introduced the program to check if their salespersons keep compliance because the Korean regulator last year mandated pharmaceutical firms to keep records of all the “economic benefits” given to doctors and pharmacists.
MSD’s monitoring caused outrage among physicians after Korea Biomedical Review’s articles revealed that the program not only watched over MSD workers but recorded all of the doctors’ conversations with MSD employees at product briefings.
MSD Korea has run the monitoring program on about 5 percent of small meetings consisting of five to 25 people. If there are 100 small meetings, the company randomly selects and monitors five.
After employees complained that the program was excessively intrusive, the company said it would make improvements as soon as possible and has done so.
|The photo of MSD Korea’s “listening session,” obtained by Korea Biomedical Review from the labor union, shows that the company offered employees only two options – the maintenance of the “self-assurance” program or a scrap of product briefings altogether.|
“After the operation of the program, we have continued to make efforts to listen to opinions of our employees and clients,” MSD Korea said.
In June and July, the company had a “listening session” for all employees to listen to their various suggestions. The company made an improvement plan out of the proposals and shared it to all employees on July 29, according to MSD Korea.
The improvement plan includes maintenance of the self-assurance program, reduction, and objectification of evaluation questions for monitoring, education for salespersons and doctors, and establishment of guidelines.
The company changed the method of the assessment of monitoring to “Yes” or “No” questions. By excluding subjective information as much as possible, the latest method aims to prevent privacy breach such as leakage of private conversations of doctors.
In August, MSD Korea plans to create a brochure and video to help doctors understand better about the monitoring program. The content will include why the company made the program and what kind of questions it can ask to assess compliance.
MSD Korea alleged that it collected workers’ opinions for more than 20 times to come up with the improvement plan.
However, the labor union of MSD Korea said the management’s alleged collection of opinions was just a show. Employees had no choice but to maintain the current monitoring program, it said.
According to the trade union, the company offered only two options – the maintenance of the self-assurance program or the suspension of product briefings altogether. Forcing salespersons and marketing employees to choose only one of the two shows that the company had no intention to improve the situation, the labor union argued.
Scrapping product briefings means there will be no tool for salespersons to sell their drugs, the union said, adding that giving it as one of the two options was the company’s trick to continue the monitoring program.
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