Further signs that the drug industry is rethinking its sales strategy came yesterday after Wyeth announced swingeing lay-offs among its sales representatives – at least according to the Wall Street Journal.

Citing the newspaper, a Reuters report said that along with other pharmaceutical companies, Wyeth has been rethinking its strategy of sending multiple reps to visit a doctor – a technique known as “mirroring” – which has led to increases in sales but is unpopular with doctors.

The company would not divulge the number of jobs that will go, but in its report the WSJ said it could be as much as 30% of the total US salesforce, which currently numbers around around 5,000. The company said that while cuts were planned, the attrition would be nowhere near the figure cited in the WSJ. Earlier this year, rumours emerged that Pfizer was planning a similar 30% cull of its 10,000-strong sales force. The company has vigorously denied such a move [[09/02/05c]], but has also said it will end sales mirroring.

Wyeth is just the latest among the top pharma companies to announce a major job slashing exercise in order to cut costs. In April, Merck & Co revealed it had shed more than 5,000 positions in 2004 [[28/04/05d]], while Eli Lilly [[23/12/04f]], Bayer [[03/12/04b]], Baxter [[26/04/04d]], and Schering AG [[17/11/04b]], have also announced reductions.

Last year, Wyeth axed 200 jobs as a result of the closure of a manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania, USA [[15/09/04b]].