PETER ROST: PHARMA MARKETING EXPERT WITNESS. AWP, MEDICAL DEVICE EXPERT.: "Sales manager: Grab "bucket of money" at doctor's office"

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"Sales manager: Grab "bucket of money" at doctor's office"

Finally, the story reaches AP, and so, goes mainstream:

Sales manager: Grab "bucket of money" at doctor's office
Associated Press

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. - A pharmaceutical sales manager was fired after his advice to "grab a handful" of money when calling on cancer doctors reached the Internet.

AstraZeneca regional sales director Michael Zubillaga, 50, was fired Friday over comments initially written for the Oncology Newsletter, an internal publication produced at the company's office in the Philadelphia suburb of Wayne.

In his advice for calling on doctors, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Saturday, Zubillaga wrote:

"I see it like this: There is a big bucket of money sitting in every office. Every time you go in, you reach your hand in the bucket and grab a handful. The more times you are in, the more money goes in your pocket."

His words echoed through cyberspace after pharmaceutical industry bloggers Peter Rost and Ed Silverman published them. Zubillaga did add that doctors should provide their patients with the best care possible.

"AstraZeneca strongly repudiates the negative comments made in this newsletter," the company said in a statement. "This newsletter was produced outside of AstraZeneca's required approval and review processes."

Zubillaga was fired for comments that violated the company's standard of "responsible sales and marketing practices and conduct," company spokeswoman Kirsten Evraire said.

Zubillaga did not return phone messages the newspaper left Friday at his home and office. Reached by phone Saturday, his mother said he may be out of town.

Silverman, on his blog, said the advice, while crass, might motivate some employees.

"Of course, many docs know that's what the sales teams think of them," he wrote. "That's why some docs hold out for expensive meals, nice trips, and good seats to good games, and why others won't let the sales rep past reception."

AstraZeneca, which has its U.S. headquarters near Wilmington, Del., employs about 4,500 throughout the Philadelphia and Wilmington region.



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