Suicide of Abbott rep in India raises questions about sales tactics

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Reports that a sales representative at Abbott Laboratories($ABT)  in India cited work performance demands in a suicide note have reverberated among colleagues, the Economic Times said, with calls for the drugmaker to take action.

The newspaper said the death of Ashish Awasthi, 35, was possibly a suicide. A note that blamed pressure to meet sales targets was found, sparking colleagues in the central Indian city of Indore to demand the company compensate his family and work on designing better work conditions.

Abbott, which is the country's second largest drugmaker by market share through unit Abbott India, told the newspaper that its marketing practices in India adhere to local laws and industry codes and regular training is part of its efforts.

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) said earlier this month that India was the next stop on its global program to revamp marketing and sales away from hard targets as part of changes from the wake of a $489 million fine it paid for bribing doctors and hospitals in China to buy its drugs.

Last year, other firms said they also plan sales and marketing changes in India by hiring younger graduates to sell directly to specialist physicians as newer drugs phase out an older model based on targets.

In the case of Abbott, the union in the country that represents sales reps has written to top executives in India and in the U.S. on what they termed, "continuous pressure, mental harassment on sales promotion employees and punitive action against field-level staff," according to the newspaper.

- here's the story from the Economic Times

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