Bristol cuts Abilify sales force by 25%

The pharma sales rep bloodbath continues. Bristol-Myers Squibb has axed one-fourth of the sales force for its antipsychotic drug Abilify. The company won't specify exactly how many jobs were cut. Despite the widespread layoffs in pharma sales, this move was somewhat unexpected because BMS had just inked a deal to extend its marketing contract with Otsuka Pharmaceutical.

The explanation for the cuts sounds familiar to anyone who's been following the sales-rep world lately. "We're evaluating our resources and determining the most appropriate structure for our sales force," Bristol spokesman Brian Henry told Bloomberg. "It's an important product for both companies."

Big Pharma has been "evaluating" and "determining" for some time now. Over the past couple of years, thousands of sales reps have lost their jobs as drugmakers look to streamline their cost structures. In essence, it's a retrenchment from the "boots on the ground" sales model that led to an enormous expansion in drugmakers' sales forces. Now, companies are looking to smaller, better-targeted, better-trained sales teams. They're discarding their sales shotguns for rifles and revolvers. And lots of reps are losing their jobs in the process.

- read the Bloomberg news