GlaxoSmithKline has been rated by doctors as having the number one sales force in the USA.

According to the latest study from healthcare analytics specialist SDI, office-based primary care physicians – GPs, family medicine physicians, and doctors of osteopathy – rank GSK's reps the highest, a jump from third in 2009. Pfizer finished second and Merck & Co came third, down from first and second, respectively, last year.

They evaluated the overall quality of a pharmaceutical sales force on a scale of one (lowest) to seven, and indicated their familiarity with each company’s reps. GSK’s average quality score among more than 1,800 primary-care physicians who participated was 5.71, an increase from 5.54 in 2009. In both 2010 and 2009, 97% of respondents indicated they were familiar with GSK reps.

Interestingly, GSK sales calls to doctors actually decreased 12% in the 12 months ending September 2010 compared with the like, year-earlier period. The products most often discussed during those calls were asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease blockbuster Advair (salmeterol and fluticasone) Diskus, the fish oil heart drug Lovaza (omega-3-acid ethyl esters) and Avodart (dutasteride) for benign prostatic hyperplasia.

The report noted that Pfizer sales reps called on primary care physicians most often, followed by reps from Merck, AstraZeneca, GSK, and Forest Laboratories. SDI,  which surveyed almost 12,000 respondents, noted that in the USA office-based doctors are the most numerous and receive the most sales rep visits - more than 14 million during the year ending September 2010.