The marketing methods used by some drug manufacturers were called into question last week after a US study showed that some top-selling drugs used to treat high blood pressure may increase the risk of heart attack. Dee, 28, is a medical rep. He talked to Cherrill Hicks.

Training: on the job plus six months' distance-learning course.

Experience: seven years.

Hours: about 8am to 6pm.

Earnings: salaries for his firm's reps range from about £l6,000-£41,000 basic, plus "incentives" of about £500-£l,000 annually.

The job: "The first thing I do each day is sort out the people I'm going to see - GPs, hospital consultants, pharmacists. Basically, I specialise in three or four products. One is for migraine, it's a very innovative drug and there's high interest. It's the first of its kind so there's no competition. Then there's a drug for stomach ulcers which has tremendous acceptability. We have an antiemetic to prevent nausea and vomiting. Finally, there's a new product for problem skin conditions.

"When I first came into the industry it used to be a fairly simple job. Now the emphasis is on providing `added-value services': educational packages on audit, for example, to help GPs monitor the outcome of particular drug regimes, and computer software. A lot of doctors are under cost constraints, so we give them the economic data needed to justify particular drug treatments - working days lost because of migraine, for example.

"The popular image of the drugs rep using aggressive marketing is unjustified - a lot these days are high-calibre graduates. Of course, there are a minority who give the industry a bad name. I'm lucky to work for Glaxo, which sells quality products and has very few `me-too' drugs, so having to compete has never been an issue.

"Glaxo pays high basic salaries, we don't have to rely on commission. If we do a good job we get a pay rise."

Pros: "The industry is changing all the time, there are always new opportunities. And you feel you are making a contribution to health care."

Cons: "I spend a lot of time on the road, which can be tiring. And you are alone a lot of the time. It helps to meet other reps, to have a chat about receptionists. You get a few old dragons."