The union for Italy's drug reps must have been studying military history: If you can't beat your opponent head-on, try a surprise attack from the side. Several big drug makers--including AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Merck--have cut reps out of their sales networks by shifting staff to contract-employment companies. So the sales-rep union, Federisf, is asking the Italian government to slash prices paid to those drug makers for their products. After all, they're saving money on payroll, right?
The union also asked the government to withhold investment and research incentives from companies that have left significant numbers of reps out in the cold. The stakes are high for the reps at least: Federisf says one in three rep jobs could be lost, and a local daily newspaper estimated that 10,000 rep jobs are at risk in Italy.