Wyeth will use inside, part-time sales representatives to complement its full-time sales force, which is being reduced by about 25 percent to 30 percent, the company said.
Adding the part-timers will result in a net sales force reduction of about 15 percent, said Bernard Poussot, Wyeth executive vice president.
"We think we've found a way to cut the waste, the wasted energies of sales reps calling on doctors [and finding it difficult to] get quality time with physicians," he said.
By trimming its full-time ranks, Wyeth aims to reduce the number of reps targeting the same doctor. Sales personnel will be assigned to detail multiple products.
As for part-timers, Wyeth has deployed them in its consumer division for the past few years. As reported in MM&M, the drug maker's began piloting them in its pharmaceuticals division in July and said it will fully implement them by year's end (MM&M, July 2005).
Part-timers will fulfill "a different type of mission" in servicing physicians, Poussot said. The reps will drop off samples and sales materials to doctors "without necessarily having to see them."
Poussot noted that so far the pilot has elicited a pool of candidates that is more experienced than applicants for traditional, full-time roles. "We have people who have done the job for many years and, at this stage of their lives, they want to be on a part-time basis. They are very experienced part-time individuals."
The changes are expected to result in more "quality" sales time with doctors for regular reps, more flexibility and higher productivity levels for the company, Poussot said.
"The reactions to our approach have been very good within the company and outside," he added. "Physicians like the concept of reducing the number of reps on key brands."