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Winning the Commercial Arms Race

Executive Summary

The US pharmaceutical industry has enjoyed phenomenal success--13% annual growth in the past 5 years in the face of challenges from a variety of sources, including generic competition and mounting managed-care cost pressures. To drive this growth, the industry has engaged in an increasingly intense commercialization arms race, nearly doubling the number of sales reps on the street since 1995. While this sales model has worked well for several decades, there is growing evidence that it is missing the mark for the many high prescribing physicians. Results of a recent McKinsey & Company initiative on sales excellence in US pharmaceuticals reveals that drug companies can benefit from revisiting their traditional sales model, with potentially big advantages for those who shape the emerging approach. And whether the objective is near term revenue growth or leading the industry in a strategic shift, most pharmaceutical companies can benefit from pursuing five key actions to drive sales excellence.

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