A new report claims that the pharmaceutical industry in the USA is wasting over $2 billion a year as a result of unsuccessful calls on doctors by sales representatives.

The study, by consulting firm ZS Associates, says that 13% of all pharmaceutical sales calls in the USA cannot be completed because “physicians limit the number of times they see even the best pharmaceutical representatives”. Despite this, the sales strategies of many companies “continue to call for visits to doctors who either rarely or never see sales representatives”.

“Most pharmaceutical executives know there is a certain level of waste in physician call plans”, claims Chris Wright, principal and leader of the pharmaceutical practice at ZS. He adds that eliminating this excess could save the industry more than $2 billion a year, in salaries and expenses.

Using its AccessMonitor system, which incorporates the call reports of more than 35,000 sales reps from more than 125 different US pharmaceutical field forces and their contact with 325,000 primary care physicians and specialists, ZS classified 23% of doctors as “medium access.” This group will see reps, but are still difficult to reach and 50% of the sales representatives that visit these doctors fail to get in the door.

The study notes that 6% of physicians in the USA fell into the “low access” category, which means they will not see representatives from any company. The report cites Boston, Minneapolis and parts of Wisconsin and the Northwest (including Seattle and Portland) and in these areas, more than 20% of doctors are difficult to see.

Mr Wright said that ZS’ findings “will drive companies to make meaningful changes to their sales force structure and deployment, improve territory and compensation plan design and, in turn, make the best use of all available resources”.