Eli Lilly offers buyouts to 4,000 reps

Is another wave of sales-rep cuts in the offing? Well, at least one Big Pharma is once again revamping its marketing ops: Eli Lilly is offering buyouts to 4,000 U.S. reps, in hopes of shedding "several hundred" jobs, or less than 10 percent of its sales force. The cuts are part of a detailing overhaul designed to streamline interactions with physicians.

The buyout offers are on the table for reps in Lilly's diabetes, neuroscience, and osteoporosis operations. The idea is to shrink sales territories, assigning just one salesperson to each--specifically, a rep with "deep therapeutic expertise," according to a Lilly statement. Apparently, the restructuring comes in response to feedback from doctors, who said they a.) wanted just one point of contact with the company, and b.) prefer their sales reps to be technically knowledgable.

As you know, drugmakers have been cutting back and re-ordering their sales operations for over a year now. The approaching patent cliff is one reason; another often cited is complaints from doctors, who dislike being called on by multiple reps pushing the same company's products. Some pharma companies, such as Merck, have moved a fair chunk of detailing online as a way to accommodate doctors' busy schedules. Others have refocused as Lilly is doing now. Whatever the strategy, thousands of pharma reps have lost their jobs in the process, with nary a major drugmaker opting out of sales cuts. Now, we can add Lilly's "several hundred" to that total.

- read the Lilly release
- check out the story in the Indianapolis Star

ALSO: Eli Lilly expanded eligibility for its patient assistance programs, allowing people with incomes up to 300 percent of the poverty level to qualify, compared with a previous limit of 200 percent. Release