I've been contemplating Pfizer's layoff of 20% of its sales force, announced on November 28th. It's about time the drug rep force was trimmed. Hopefully other companies will follow Pfizer's lead.
Did you know there are approximately 100,000 drug reps in the United States? How many doctors are there in clinical practice? About 600,000! That means that every doctor in the United States could have a one-hour visit from a drug rep on the same day! I cannot think of any other large industry that has the sales capacity to have face-to-face meetings with every single decisionmaker in one month or one quarter, let alone in one day!
The date of the announcement was an interesting coincidence. On the exact same date, one year earlier, the New York Times published an article, "Gimme an Rx! Cheerleaders Pep Up Drug Sales." The article described how drug companies look to recently graduated cheerleaders to fill their sales ranks. To present the story line euphemistically, the combination of physical attributes and personality is just what male doctors like for lunch.
It's also a coincidence that my previous posting was about young women in the medical school ranks. Combining the subjects, one wonders what sales techniques the drug companies will develop for this emerging physician demographic. Sending a perky cheerleader to visit a provocatively-dressed academically-overachieving female physician seems like a prescription for a bad drug interaction.
At a recent medical conference, one company had an ex-football player, stripped to the waist, jogging on a treadmill.