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11/28/2005

Sex and Drugs:’You Will Never Meet an Ugly Drug Rep’

Jon Moreno saw this New York Times piece in which the key skill for drug representatives has finally been identified: cheerleading skills!

Wholesome, sexy and animated, they are now being recruited directly from the cheerleading programs:

T. Lynn Williamson, Ms. Napier’s cheering adviser at Kentucky, says he regularly gets calls from recruiters looking for talent, mainly from pharmaceutical companies. “They watch to see who’s graduating,” he said.

“They don’t ask what the major is,” Mr. Williamson said. Proven cheerleading skills suffice. “Exaggerated motions, exaggerated smiles, exaggerated enthusiasm – they learn those things, and they can get people to do what they want.” …

“There’s a lot of sizzle in it,” said Mr. Webb. “I’ve had people who are going right out, maybe they’ve been out of school for a year, and get a car and make up to $50,000, $60,000 with bonuses, if they do well.” Compensation sometimes goes well into six figures.

And the effect of very attractive salespeople making very unusual sales pitches in what quickly become somewhat flirtatious relationships is obvious:

Still, women have an advantage with male doctors, according to Jamie Reidy, a drug representative who was fired by Eli Lilly this year after writing a book lampooning the industry…

In an interview, Mr. Reidy remembered a sales call with the “all-time most attractive, coolest woman in the history of drug repdom.” At first, he said, the doctor “gave ten reasons not to use one of our drugs.” But, Mr. Reidy added: “She gave a little hair toss and a tug on his sleeve and said, ‘Come on, doctor, I need the scrips.’ He said, ‘O.K., how do I dose that thing?’ I could never reach out and touch a female physician that way.”

Stories abound about doctors who mistook a sales pitch as an invitation to more. A doctor in Washington pleaded guilty to assault last year and gave up his license after forcibly kissing a saleswoman on the lips.

One informal survey, conducted by a urologist in Pittsburgh, Dr. James J. McCague, found that 12 of 13 medical saleswomen said they had been sexually harassed by physicians. Dr. McCague published his findings in the trade magazine Medical Economics under the title “Why Was That Doctor Naked in His Office?”

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