As suspected Pfizer has started laying off salespeople as Lipitor faces patent expiration. Merck is still laying off people and Lilly has plans to reduce its workforce in Indianapolis. When companies loose sales the way pharma companies are loosing products because of patent expiration there isn’t much choice but to make organizations smaller. However we all should remember that in this economy that meeting with their managers can be devastating to employees and their families.
I keep wondering how much longer biopharma companies can continue to layoff people and still attract and retain talent ? As I have said here a lot of people, who I consider really good marketers & salespeople, have either been shown the door or have decided to leave on their own because they don’t get job satisfaction anymore from working in “big pharma“.
Pfizer tried to find a successor to Lipitor but could not and in addition to the patent expiration of Lipitor Viagra is also due to come off patent soon. The chances of Lipitor going OTC are slim and none and my guess is that Lipitor will lose 70-85% of it’s sales to generic competition.
So what can biopharma companies do to attract and retain talent ?
Well first when salespeople are hired they should be offered a chance to put a portion of their pay into a “severance account”. A portion of the money they put in should be matched by the company and the account should only be accessed when an employee is laid off for business reasons. Pharma companies could also state when they hire employees that they will get a specific severance when and if they are laid off.
Now some people will read this and say “there is no way pharma companies can afford to do this with the current state of healthcare and drug costs” but I would argue “and what is the lost revenue of not hiring top talent to work at your company ?” Pharma companies cannot just hire people out of college give them a car and train them to pitch HCP’s anymore. HCP’s are looking for more than that. The research I led earlier this year clearly indicated that HCP’s want someone who can be considered a peer and can help them get the information they need in a world with too much information.
The new business model is not just about reducing costs and expenses it about getting better and part of that equation has to be getting better with higher quality people who want to make a difference in healthcare not because they were offered a car and nice salary out of school.
- Pfizer, Merck CEOs Need a Vision (thestreet.com)
- Revenge, betrayal and power: What happened at Pfizer (worldofdtcmarketing.com)
- Help Wanted: Some innovative DTC marketers (worldofdtcmarketing.com)
- Lilly feels the pain of patent expirations (worldofdtcmarketing.com)
- Pfizer may seek to sell nonprescription version of Lipitor – @WSJ (online.wsj.com)
- Pharma Earnings Winner: Pfizer Versus Merck (MRK, PFE, LLY) (247wallst.com)