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Firings At Pfizer Could Change Drug Marketing

  • Forbes, Wednesday, November 29, 2006 11:45 AM
In a move that may have a domino effect on the pharmaceutical industry, Pfizer yesterday said that it would cut about 20% of its sales force. About 2,200 jobs will be lost. The drug giant says that the cuts are an "initial step" in its "transformation strategy."

Drug firms rely on salespeople to call on physicians, informing doctors about the benefits of new drugs and handing out free samples. Without such promotion, new medicines, they argue, wouldn't go into wide use. But in the past decade, the number of sales people in the industry has tripled to 100,000. But there has also been a backlash, as some doctors and universities refuse to visit with marketers.

Pfizer cutbacks might have a big effect on the entire drug business, allowing other companies to cut back on sales and marketing spending, too. Last February, GlaxoSmithKline CEO Jean-Pierre Garnier said the company would "welcome" a reduction in the number of salespeople, but that he couldn't make cuts if his competitors continued to flood the field with marketing reps.



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