Pfizer is executing hundreds of salespeople in the US as the company switches to the digital drive amid a pandemic that veers away from in-person meetings.
Pfizer and partner BioNTech are set to generate about $40 billion in sales of COVID vaccines this year and more in 2022, with the new antiviral Paxlovid to help bring in more billions in the future.
But while that doesn’t mean New York-based Big Pharma will spend the money where it isn’t needed, the money has poured in.
“We are evolving into a more focused and innovative biopharmaceutical company, evolving the way we engage with healthcare professionals in an increasingly digital world,” Pfizer said in a statement to Fierce Pharma Marketing.
“There will be some changes to our workforce to ensure we have the right expertise and resources to meet our evolving needs,” which includes moving to digital and moving away from salespeople in the field. Reuters covered the story for the first time.
Fierce Pharma Marketing understands that Pfizer is eliminating a few hundred sales jobs, although it is adding about half that number to the company in new areas to help facilitate the kinds of engagement that healthcare owners tell the company they want more of in the future.
Related: Pfizer’s COVID sales peak now at $50 billion, with vaccine withdrawals continuing at $25 billion by 2027: Analysts
It comes the same week that Albert Burla, CEO of Pfizer, spoke at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference 2022 about the company’s transition to default. “Part of our development effort in COVID has been very successful because of the digitization we have in our process that will also continue to play,” he said.
He added that the go-to-market approach is “totally different” due to the way the company and clinicians can access information about drugs “through the digital path rather than through field forces,” which is the method used to control that information.
Pfizer is not solely responsible for excluding sales representatives; A year ago, Amgen also swing the axe, culling 500 American jobs, most of whom were also salespeople, and again, this bloodshed as a result of the pandemic has pushed their roles to a more virtual platform.
But there have been some warning signs from healthcare surveys, notably from Accenture and Indegene, that the drive to digital is causing clinicians to become “overwhelmed, irritated and overwhelmed” by drug marketers who push drug promotion and fail to adapt information as needed.
The survey by Indegene indicated that pharmaceuticals need to be serious about training “digitally savvy actors” in this new era and not just “spam” healthcare professionals.