PharmExec Blog

GSK to Cut 1,800 Sales Positions (Updated)

GlaxoSmithKline, today, announced that it is restructuring its US pharmaceutical sales organization. The plan will include elimination of 1,800 sales rep positions by year end. The cuts will affect approximately 1,000 employees and an undetermined number of support staff.

A spokesperson told Pharm Exec that some reps will be moved to the company’s expanding vaccine sales group. Additionally, GSK will be designating its North Carolina location as its sole headquarters.

While some pharma companies are moving to a geographic sales structure, GSK chose to reorganize reps by therapeutic areas. “In the past, some of our teams were organized by where they reported to, whether it be Philadelphia or Research Triangle Park,” GSK spokesperson Mary Anne Rhyne told Pharm Exec. “Geography is still a concern in terms of making sure that reps are in the right places in the country, but we think this plan will allow us to provide healthcare professionals with more of the specialized information that they are looking for.”

For example, a rep could visit with a doctor and discuss all of GSK’s respiratory medicines instead of just Advair. This gives the company a corps of specialized sales reps who know a lot about a few drugs rather than a little bit about everything.

There are no plans to outsource positions to a contract organization as other pharma companies have recently done.

“This is about trimming the people that we have and making sure that they have the absolutely best training to offer this kind of information,” Rhyne said. “Our marketplace and portfolio are evolving. In the past year we had four different medicines that we lost to generics, but at the same time, we’ve added two new vaccines in the last quarter, and we’ve launched six different products in the last year. We need the kind of flexibility to be able to take those medicines to the sales staff so they can talk to the doctors about them.”

The restructuring is expected to be complete by the end of the year. GSK recently restructured its oncology division by merging the discovery and development divisions.

Correction and Update: GSK will not be eliminating its Philadelphia branch. The company has designated North Carolina as its headquarters but we will continue to have a significant presence in Philadelphia. No employees will be moved or released from the Philadelphia location.

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