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January 10, 2011
Ahem: "Sell Gobs of Dope"?
Thanks to Jim Edwards at Bnet, we have an example of some of the worst pharma sales techniques imaginable. A lawsuit alleging that Gilead Pharmaceuticals had been illegally pushing off-label indications for their angina medication Ranexa (ranolizine) was dropped recently, which brought a lot of court papers into view. According to the whistle-blower who filed the suit, a director of sales force training at the company said that their mission to, and nothing will do except a direct quote, "sell gobs of dope" and "get those pills into people's mouths any way you can."
The drug's supposed to be used only for refractory angina, but the suit alleges that Gilead's sales people were targeting the larger cardiovascular market. "I do not care what you do to sell the drug," a sales manager is quoted as saying. "I don't see anything and I don't hear anything. Just get those scripts."
Now, I realize that these are papers from only one side of this case. And as it turns out the Department of Justice actually did not get involved in the suit, which is probably why it's been dropped (for now). Furthermore, even if these allegations are true, they may well reflect the culture of CV Therapeutics, the company selling Renexa when Gilead bought them in 2009.
But this should really be an alarm bell for the management at Gilead. If they have people in their sales organization with this worldview, then it's only a matter of time before some of them do enough, say enough, present enough, and write down enough evidence to allow a successful whistle-blower case. And if that's what's going on, then such a suit would be richly deserved. This sort of stuff is idiotic, and it's wrong, and it's a big reason why the public opinion of our industry has been relentlessly sliding down over the years.
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