About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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May 19, 2010

Manning the Phones

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Posted by Derek

I don't cover the sales-force side of the drug industry very much - there's always CafePharma, you know, assuming that your company's firewall lets you visit the site. (As far as I know, this one gets in everywhere, in case anyone's wondering).

But this headline is an eyebrow-raiser: AstraZeneca seems to have been replacing most (perhaps all) of its sales-rep activity for Nexium to. . .call centers. And it seems to have worked. (The sales reps themselves were redeployed to other medications).

They're looking at trying this for other "mature" drug brands that already have years of sales push behind them - and considering the cost-cutting environment that we're in these days, I would guess that other companies are watching this experiment with great interest.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. Hap on May 19, 2010 11:17 AM writes...

Boy, I'm glad I'm on the Do-Not-Call list. I wonder, though, how many doctors could avoid these calls this way - while I might not want to hear about Nexium [look, a slightly modified generic (that's a top tier drug if it's covered at all by patients' drug plans)!], I might want to hear about other drugs that AZ might want me to use, and if DNCing them prevents me from hearing about them, I might be hesitant to do so.

Of course, since they're farming the calls to telespammers....errr, call centers, I don't know if a doctor would expect to get anything useful from the calls, anyway. Ooooh, look, another toll-free call. Say hello to my voice mail.

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2. Sili on May 19, 2010 12:03 PM writes...

I guess it'd be naïve to hope that this'd reduce undue influence of reps on GPs.

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3. John Spevacek on May 19, 2010 1:04 PM writes...

"As far as I know, this one gets in everywhere, in case anyone's wondering"

Sadly, I have to inform you otherwise. A client where I spend a lot of time and have access to their computers, has recently started block ALL BLOG ACCESS - not just for posting, but also for reading. Apparently their IT department doesn't know about RSS readers (or maybe they haven't gotten around to blocking that route just yet).

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4. anonymous on May 19, 2010 8:31 PM writes...

Call centers aren't all bad. Outbound
telemarketing and ADMRs (those nasty voice
call spam machines politicians are so fond
of) are truly vile.

Inbound customer service isn't a bad thing
- as long as there are no endless menus of
"press this button to do that now": stupid
interactive voice response machines that
don't understand anything other than yes
or no:, interminable hold featuring advertising, awful music, and lies about how much the company
cares about its customers...

Anyone willing to bet that AZ will farm out
their call center work offshore?

@John Spevacek - try a proxy server or see if
you can get to your preferred sites by https -
companies can't block https traffic, and I've
not heard of any traffic shaping device that
will selectively block it, either.

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