The Upward Staffing Trend In India’s Pharmaceutical Industry

India’s advanced healthcare system has helped people all over the world. From healing the world to becoming its pharmacy hub, India’s pharmaceutical industry has witnessed remarkable growth. Ranking 3rd in production volume and 14th by value globally, India has truly become a force to reckon with in the global drug manufacturing arena.

The industry’s field force typically consists of sales representatives, medical representatives, product specialists, and key account managers, who are responsible for promoting and selling the company’s products to healthcare professionals.

Did you know that the top 10 Pharma companies employ field sales representatives totaling more than 50,000 who meet doctors everyday. Including medical devices, diagnostics, disposables, and surgical companies, the number of sales representatives crosses one million, almost one for each doctor. The industry owes its success to a cost-effective and skilled workforce groomed by a well-established educational system that produces a large number of science and engineering graduates.

These graduates are lapped up by pharma giants like Cipla, Sun Pharma, Biocon, Dr. Reddy’s, Novartis, Lupin etc. as medical sales representatives to act as ambassadors for companies, promoting prescription drugs, medications, and medical equipment while implementing strategies to increase product awareness. Pharma expos serve as channels for companies to showcase their offerings and provide a secure meeting point for face-to-face interactions with potential customers, enabling reps to collect valuable information and feedback. This increased demand for new products has led to a search for more salespeople by industry executives and recruiters.

Just to add some perspective, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories increased its field force to 7,500 in 2021-22 from 4,800 in 2017-18 while Sun Pharma added 1,000 employees to its sales force in 2021 and 2022. Cipla aims to strengthen its reach in tier 2-6 towns through sales expansion.

Biocon and Dr. Reddy’s were both recognised by US-based Science magazine for ‘Science 2022 Top Employer List. While Biocon was acknowledged for being an innovative leader in the industry, socially responsible, and having loyal employees, Dr. Reddy’s was highly rated for treating employees with respect, being socially responsible, and providing employees with autonomy.

While the Indian Pharma market is projected to grow to a whopping US$ 130 billion industry by 2023 which will also see the demand for pharma talent increase manifold with plenty of opportunities for growth, not everything is all sunshine and rainbows in the industry. Recruiters face unique challenges such as talent shortages, high turnover, strict regulatory requirements, global competition, and high hiring costs. Mankind Pharma, a leading pharmaceutical company, has reported high field staff attrition rates ranging from 20% to 33%, particularly among medical representatives aged below 30. The high attrition is due to poaching from within and outside the pharmaceutical industry, including telecom, FMCG, and retail sectors. Organisations now realise the importance of training their front line in a competitive industry. Meaningful training in consultative selling has become one of the top ways to help build employee loyalty towards the organisation and aid in better retention.

To know how we can help you with staffing needs for pharmaceuticals, please write to us here.

Written by:
Sarika Nair

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