Drug Companies Employ 81% More Staff for Marketing Than R&D
Brand-name drug makers in the United States employ 81% more people in their marketing departments than in their research and development departments, and the "gap has been growing" over the past few years, according to a new study released yesterday by the Boston University School of Public Health. The study found that drug companies employed 48,527 individuals in their R&D departments in 2000, down from 49,409 in 1995, while employment in their marketing departments increased from 55,348 to 87,810 during the same period. According to the study, the additional 32,000 marketing department employees were "mainly" sales representatives who promote drugs to physicians and HMOs. In 2000, drug makers employed 39% of their staff in marketing, 22% in R&D, 26% in production and 11% in administration, the study found. "Brand-name prescription drug makers assert that their focus is on discovering new cures and that Americans must continue paying high prices to support research. But their employment priorities offer evidence that neither claim is true," Alan Sager, an author of the study and co-director of the Health Reform Program at the Boston University School of Public Health, said (Boston University School of Public Health release, 12/6).
However, Jeff Trewhitt, a spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said that the increase in the number of products receiving FDA approval warranted a larger sales force. He said, "One reason for more sales representatives is that there are more products to talk about. In the 1980s, the FDA approved 239 new drugs. It approved 370 in the 1990s" (Silverman, Newark Star-Ledger, 12/7). Trewhitt, speaking yesterday on MPR's "Marketplace," also noted that drug makers' R&D figures appear lower than they actually are because the companies often contract with outside academics and specialists to conduct research. "Personnel numbers are misleading. ... We spend twice the amount on research that we spend on all aspects of advertising and marketing," he said. Trewhitt said that this year, drug companies spent $30 billion on R&D and $15 billion on marketing (Palmer, "Marketplace," MPR, 12/6).