The decline and fall of the pharma rep

If you're a sales rep who needs another reason to cry into your soup, take a look at Reuters' analysis of the earthquake that's remodeling pharma sales. The short, short version: More sales cuts are yet to come, and smaller sales forces are here to stay.

The old marketing model just doesn't work anymore, Reuters' Ben Hirschler writes. Primary care doctors have less power these days, because payers and their tiered formularies are the real decision-makers. If they won't pay for a branded drug, then prescribing it doesn't do any good. So drugmakers are directing more of their sales firepower toward payers--and because there are far fewer payers than there are doctors, that new focus requires fewer sales people.

Meanwhile, even when reps are sent out to doctors, they're having a tougher time getting in the door. Sales visits in Britain are regularly cancelled, shortened down to just a couple of minutes, and forgotten, IMS Health research shows. Meanwhile, conflicts-of-interest policies in U.S. teaching hospitals and clinics--not to mention some state laws--have barred everything from giveaway items to drug samples, and some medical practices have reacted by putting up "No Reps Allowed" signs.

One U.K. sales rep laid off three times in 11 months tells Reuters, "By the end of my time as a drug rep, there was a definite reluctance to see me, and a resignation to the fact that decisions were less based on clinical evidence and more based on price." Just one tale of woe among many.  

- read the Reuters piece

ALSO: A Sanofi-Aventis sales rep has joined the battle about overtime pay for pharma salespeople, alleging in a lawsuit that she and other reps were denied overtime in violation of federal law. Report