Merck outsources sales force

What to do when you're suddenly 1,200 sales reps down? Bring in the contractors. That's what Merck is doing in the wake of laying off some 15 percent of its sales force. The company has inked a deal with inVentiv Health, a sales-and-marketing firm, to take over some detail work. "[R]ather than recruit, hire, or keep full-time representatives on the books, we're creating a more flexible approach," so that the company can shrink or grow its sales force at will, a company spokeswoman told Dow Jones.

The company won't say how many inVentiv reps will be involved or which products they'll be dispatched to promote, only that neither vaccines nor drugs for cancer, eye problems or dermatology uses would be involved. Dow Jones speculates that inVentiv might handle big primary-care meds such as Singulair, the allergy drug and/or blood pressure pills such as Cozaar.

- read the Wall Street Journal Health Blog post
- check out the article from Dow Jones