Analyst: Contract sales reps rule

It's not a shocking, breathtaking conclusion, but it's certain to get pharma sales reps talking: Über-analyst Barbara Ryan of Deutsche Bank predicts that, in the wake of enormous layoffs in pharma sales, contract reps will become the order of the day. Revenues are now following a "cyclical pattern surrounding patent expirations," In Vivo quotes Ryan as saying. So pharma companies need to have sales forces that can follow the same kind of cycle, shrinking as revenues sink, she suggests.

Pharma recruiter RSA concurs--not surprisingly, because they place interim staff--saying that as economic conditions worsen, companies will be looking at ways to "switch headcounts 'on and off.'" Of course, when head count varies, costs vary, too, helping drugmakers maintain margins on drugs that aren't maintaining sales.

Some companies are already doing this; for instance, Merck inked a deal with InVentiv Health for marketing Cozaar and Hyzaar--right after it laid off 1,200 sales reps. The most sensible outsourcing approach, to Ryan's mind, is to use contract sales forces to manage "mature brands" and in-house staff for launches and newer meds.

- see the article at In Vivo
- check out the release from RSA