Mumbai:The suicide of Ashish Awasthi, the 35 year old sales representative found dead on a railway track in Indore has sparked both controversy and unrest at Abbott. The suicide note found next to his body holds Abbott responsible for his death.The company is India’s second largest drug maker by market share.
Awasthi’s suicide is being related to pressure to meet the company’s target sales. The drug maker is vociferously denying all responsibility saying that the deceased was an outstanding performer of the company and had recently been selected for a training certification meant for quality performers.
Ironically, the note recovered next to his body holds the company responsible for his death. The medical representative’s union has staged demonstrations asking for adequate compensation for the deceased’s family and better work conditions for his counterparts.
Matters have taken a very serious turn with members of the union of medical representatives writing to the Chicago headquarters condemning the persistent pressure and mental harassment faced by sales promotion representatives, as well as, disciplinary action taken against field staff by the company.
The company has been blamed for unethical trade and marketing practices and for forcing its employees to involve themselves in unethical businesses by Manish Thacker, Secretary,Indore Unit, Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh Medical & Sales Representatives Union.
The union which is affiliated to the Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives’ Associations of India, in a written memorandum has asked for action being taken against managers responsible for Awasthi’s death, compensation to the family and an assurance that incidences of this nature would be prevented from happening. Setting up of a redress forum has also been asked for.
The deceased was employed with the neuro life division of the company and was a steady performer. In a written declaration to the media the Abbott management in defense of its marketing practices in India has clarified saying policies, practices and employee training are aligned with applicable laws, regulations and industry codes.
“These are cascaded to all our employees when they join the organisation and refreshed through regular training,” the mailed statement clarifies.
The $ 15 billion pharmaceutical market faces stiff competition with players scrambling for a share in the market.Integrity of marketing ethics and doctors has often come under scrutiny of late; primarily, due to the competition prevailing and everybody trying to garner a bigger share for themselves.
Market research agency AIOCD PharmaTrac’s data reflects Abbott’s pharmaceutical sales at Rs 6,236 crore over the past 12 months, constituting 6.2 % market share on the moving annual turnover, till June.