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Friday, October 26, 2012

Jobless but good-looking? Become a Pharma Rep!

Dan Ariely's book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty reminded me about this particular form of drug pushing -- using attractive sales-people to push your particular brand -- or composition -- of pharmaceutical to doctors, by whatever means possible.

It's been reported before (including by Stephanie Saul in the New York Times in 2005), but it's worth repeating any chance you get.  It's really quite sophisticated -- the Pharma Company makes sure that the rep is tailored as closely as possible to the doctor's preferences (or fantasies), and reps will "switch[] various accents, personalities, and political affiliations on and off," depending on the doctor (Ariely. p,) 81.  If you're a rep who can become a social friend of the doctor -- so much the better.

I found stats on how much you can make as a Pharma Rep here.  Apparently, starting salaries for newbies are around $60K plus commissions, and after a few short years, you'll be making over $100K base salary.  AND you have a big fat expense account, including use of a company car.  Nice work if you can get it.  

Update August 8, 2015:  And of course, John Oliver did a great job on this issue here.  In the interest of full disclosure, here is a link to someone who criticizes Oliver's work.  He notes that GSK now actually compensates pharma reps based on their technical knowledge, as opposed to their looks/sales numbers.  But I have yet to see an ugly pharma rep.

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