Are drug company sales reps faking it?
Today I received an amazing letter from a drug company sales rep. This is the story he told me:
Why don't more drug reps resist or report unethical conduct by their managers? The answer is fake calls.
A month or two after hitting the field, every drug rep in the country realizes that there is no way they can possibly meet their "call per day" quota. This is the number of conversations they are supposed to conduct with physicians on a daily basis. Eight to ten per day for primary care reps, four to five per day for specialty reps.
While the number of sales people has tripled in the last ten years, the number of physicians has remained relatively flat. Physician access has markedly decreased because of the annoying presence of so many reps.
Pfizer's old "reach and frequency" business model is clearly dead (the more a doc hears a detail, the more he writes for the drug blah, blah, blah). But it lingers on in the minds of many unimaginative pharmaceutical executives.
So what does every drug rep do? They enter fake calls into their computer. Roughly half of their days are pure falsehood. They sit in their cars and dream up conversations with physicians, giving the company what they want. So many calls per day, per rep, that pharma thinks will generate X number of dollars. The entire industry is built upon a house of cards.
You could fire half the drug reps in the country and not even blink.
The problem is that the company can fire them for entering fake calls. So, in essence, they have an impossible task that they have to falsely document in order to keep their jobs. Most reps in any district have an agreement with each other not to go too high or too low on the average.
When they have a field ride with their managers, that's when fantasy meets reality. What they do is gather up and stack any appointment they can come up with in order to maintain the illusion that they are busy every day. And so on...
Here's the rub. Reps realize that if their district manager took a close look at their calls they could be fired. In fact, any company could fire just about any rep on any given day for entering fake calls.
So there's a big fear factor. They've got families to support. When district managers or the company mandate unethical activity, they go along with it because they know that resistance could lead to an examination of their call activity and termination from employment.
It's almost impossible for a rep to go through an entire day without being dishonest.