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Professional Ethics, Professionalization, and Regulation of Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives: Analyzing the Costa Rican Case

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Part of the Accounting, Finance, Sustainability, Governance & Fraud: Theory and Application book series (AFSGFTA)


The purpose of this essay is to present an argument in favor of a strong state regulation of sales representatives working for pharmaceutical companies, taking as an example the Costa Rican legislation, which can be used as part of a strategy to discourage the various incorrect practices that have created a climate prone to corruption in the relationship between prescribers and pharmaceutical companies. This regulation should include three basic mechanisms: (1) The professionalization of sales representatives as a legal requirement, (2) Affiliation to the pharmaceutical professional association in the country, as a mandatory requirement, (3) Creation of state laws or policies to regulate the conduct and practices of pharmaceutical sales representatives, including the necessary mechanisms for filing complaints about breach of such regulations and adequate penalties for both the sales rep and the company. These rules can go along with by transparency policies such as the Open Payments Act in the US, and international guidelines on the proper relationship between prescribers and pharmaceutical companies, such as those published by the WHO.


  • Professional ethics
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Sales
  • Costa Rica

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Fig. 6.1


  1. 1.

    See, for example: Physician Motivations for Nonscientific Drug Prescribing, Rebecca Schwartz et al., 1989, Society Medicine, Vol. 28. No. 6, pp. 577–582; Scientific versus Commercial Sources of Influence on the Prescribing Behavior of Physicians, Avorn, Chen and Hartley, Medicine, Science and Society, 1982, Vol. 73.

  2. 2.

    Regarding the strategy of pharmaceutical companies to maximize their sales to the State, by using the legal system to force the purchase of medicines that are not included in the official list of medicines of the public health system, I recommend reading Angelina Godoy’s book: Of Medicines and Markets, published by Stanford University Press in 2013.

  3. 3.

  4. 4.


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Correspondence to Gabriela Arguedas-Ramírez .

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Arguedas-Ramírez, G. (2020). Professional Ethics, Professionalization, and Regulation of Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives: Analyzing the Costa Rican Case. In: Çalıyurt, K. (eds) Integrity, Transparency and Corruption in Healthcare & Research on Health, Volume I. Accounting, Finance, Sustainability, Governance & Fraud: Theory and Application. Springer, Singapore.

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