Terra Sigillata

Pfizer sales force cuts

One of PharmMom’s first jobs, before or around the time I was born, was as secretary for a Pfizer drug sales rep back in the golden days of the pharmaceutical industry (1960s). Doc Bushwell and I have been going back and forth the last couple of days on my post regarding Takeda Pharma’s interesting (and outsourced) ad campaign for their sleeping pill, Rozerem. (btw, Doc, I look forward to your promised “frothing rant” on direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug advertising.).

Researchers abhor the amount of money poured into pharmaceutical sales and marketing because, as Doc Bushwell and others intimate, much of the investment is done at the expense of new R&D dollars. Of course, sales and DTC marketing would not be so popular if it were not so successful financially…I don’t have the ROI numbers handy but I know that marketing ROIs make R&D seem like a poor investment – that is, until there are no longer any drugs for the companies to promote and sell! (but then, most of the MBAs involved in the return/investment projections will have moved on to their third or fourth companies by then while devoted researchers are stranded at the bench.)

So, while listening last night to Marketplace on NPR, I heard that the pharmaceutical industry is today breathing a collective sigh of relief that Pfizer is relieving 2,200 salespersons of their employment, just in time for the holidays. Turns out that Pfizer had previously been the most aggressive of companies in bolstering their sales forces and other companies were struggling to keep up.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about drug advertising (and check out Doc Bushwell’s post for some ads from the good ol’ days.).

But jettisoning 2,200 folks for the holidays just seems harsh. Look for some interesting repercussions.