Novartis sales calls to healthcare providers on the rise

During the first six months of 2010, calls made by Novartis sales representatives to healthcare professionals increased seven percent compared with the same period last year, SDI, a market analytics firm, is reporting. But as Norvartis' calls went up, those by GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Pfizer decreased. And overall, sales calls by the pharmaceutical industry to practitioners decreased one percent in the first half of 2010 compared with the previous six months.

Pfizer, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, which made the most sales calls in the first six months of 2010, each registered declines from the second half of 2009. Pfizer sales calls decreased two percent, while Merck and GSK had larger declines at 16 percent and seven percent, respectively, SDI reports.

"With the number of pharmaceutical sales reps being scaled back dramatically over the last few years, it's no surprise that sales calls across the industry are also declining," says Jason Fox, associate director of syndicated analytics at SDI.

Furthermore, at least one previous study has shown that accessing doctors is getting harder. Earlier this year, research by ZS Associates showed that only 58 percent of doctors can be described as "rep accessible"--i.e., they meet with at least 70 percent of sales folk who drop by. That's down from 71 percent last year, a drop of almost 13 percentage points, or an 18 percent decline. Meanwhile, inaccessible doctors now account for nine percent of the total, up from six percent last year.

- see the SDI release