Shahram Ahari, who spent two years selling Prozac and Zypraxa for Eli Lily, told a Senate Aging Committee that his job involved “rewarding physicians with gifts and attention for their allegiance to your product and company despite what may be ethically appropriate.”
Ahari claims that drug companies often hire former cheerleaders and ex-models, as well as former athletes and members of the military, even if they have no background in science.
During their five-week training class, Ahari says he was taught sales tactics such as:
• How to exceed spending limits for important clients
• How to be generous with free samples to leverage sales
• How to use friendships and personal gifts to foster a “quid pro quo” relationship
• How to exploit sexual tension
Ahari claims that he’s even heard stories about sales reps helping to pay the cost of a doctor’s swimming pool, or taking a doctor to a nightclub where a hostess was paid to keep him company.
For this work, sales reps often earned more than researchers. On top of a base salary of $50,000 for starting reps, Ahari says, “there were four quarterly bonuses, an annual bonus, stock options, a car, 401K, great health benefits, and a $60,000 expense account.”
• ABC News March 12, 2008