Primary-care docs think GSK reps are tops

In the latest sales popularity contest, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) reps are the prom kings and queens of pharma marketing. According to the market research firm SDI's 2010 study, primary care doctors voted GSK sales folks into the top slot, up from third last year. On a quality scale of 1 to 7, Glaxo's sales force was rated 5.71 on average, an increase from 5.54 in 2009. 

The 1,800 voting docs--general practitioners, family medicine doctors, and osteopathic physicians--ranked Pfizer's reps in second place, down from first place last year. And Merck placed third, down from second place in 2009.

Overall, primary care doctors were called on more than 14 million times during the 12 months that ended September 2010. Pfizer ($PFE) reps showed up most often, with Merck ($MRK), AstraZeneca ($AZN), GSK and Forest ($FRX) rounding out the top five. Interestingly, GSK's primary-care sales calls actually decreased by 12 percent during the same 12-month period when their popularity grew. Perhaps their absence made doctors' hearts grow fonder.

- see the SDI release