Struggling and Thriving in a Cutthroat Industry


Making it in the Pharmaceutical Sales Industry

Working for a pharmaceutical company in the marketing and selling department is one of the most difficult, yet rewarding jobs on the market, according to one pharmaceutical representative who is at the top of her company. She discusses the joys and struggles of working in what she calls “a cutthroat industry.”

The Perks of Selling for a Pharmaceutical Company

Selling pharmaceuticals has been made out to be a high-glamour, high-paid job with endless perks and incentives. While this can be true from an outsider’s perspective looking in, it is hardly that.

Yes, many pharmaceutical companies reward their employees with a company car, laptop and phone but these incentives mean nothing if the employee cannot sell the products.

Biopharmaceutical sales representative Kim Little works for Amgen, which is the largest biotech company in the world. Little was recently awarded an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii for having the highest sales in the company. Generally, the schedule of  pharmaceutical representatives is fairly flexible and allows them to take several vacations throughout the year.

“I can honestly say that I love my job but I would not be where I am today if I didn’t fight tooth and nail for each and every sale,” says Little.

On a day-to-day basis, pharmaceutical representatives call on physicians, nurses and hospital staff to meet with them, usually during a lunch provided by the rep, to pitch the drug and make a sale.

High Employee Turnover

The career of pharmaceutical representative comes with a high employee turnover rate. Putting together good business plans and executing them competitively help a pharmaceutical representative stay on top. To keep the job, you must be the best at selling and even better at creating long-lasting relationships with existing and potential customers.

Little did not come to her current top position easily. She is not only the top seller in her company, but also in charge of running her territory.

Selling the Drug

The drug that Little represents is Prolia (denosumad). It is a subcutaneous injection given every six months to women with postmenopausal osteoporosis. This drug not only has changed the market in its category, but has offered relief from osteoporosis for thousands of women around the world.

One doctor Little called on for Prolia is Dr. Mark McGee of Alpharetta, Ga. How did he choose this drug, which is more costly, over a generic brand drug?

“It’s simple really. Little came in and had a great sales pitch. She explained that, yes the drug is expensive, but it is effective and your patients will benefit from it,” said McGee.

Prolia costs around $800 dollars per injection. Women are advised to have two injections per year.

Making It in the Industry

Sales people must be focused, disciplined, and have a desire to succeed and win, according to Little. Hiring managers look favorably on individuals who can show that they are competitive.

Through hard work and perseverance it is possible to succeed in the pharmaceutical selling industry. It all comes down to how bad you want it and how hard you are willing to try to fight for your position.

Most pharmaceutical companies do require prior outside sales experience of the candidates they hire. Amgen’s website  has a list of employee qualifications.


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