A doctor’s office is a ‘big bucket of money, grab a handful’, said fired Astra sales chief

The pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is at the centre of a storm in the US after firing one of its sales directors for comments he made likening doctors’ offices to “a big bucket of money”, writes Karen Attwood in today’s Independent.

Documents have surfaced on industry insider websites allegedly describing illegal drug marketing practices and AstraZeneca has since launched an investigation into the activities of several employees.

Mike Zubillaga, who was regional sales director for AstraZeneca’s Mid-Atlantic Business Center in Wayne, Pennsylvania, was quoted in a internal newsletter saying: “I see it like this: there is a big bucket of money sitting in every office. Every time you go, you reach your hand in the bucket and grab a handful. The more times you are in, the more money goes in your pocket. Every time you make a call, you are looking to make more money.”

Some commentators have suggested that Mr Zubillaga was simply telling the truth, although others have taken offence. Peter Rost, a former marketing executive at Pfizer, who first posted the newsletter on his “whistleblower” blog two weeks ago, wrote: “AstraZeneca lacked the internal controls to make sure the truth didn’t get out, and now they are trying to show they are holier than thou, by firing the guy who said what everyone knows to be true … Instead of a reprimand, AstraZeneca created a sacrificial lamb to cover the corporate rear end.”

I think this will be a good time to advise you all to go over and have a look at Dr Rost’s blog ‘Question Authority‘. It is most remiss of me not to have linked to Dr Rost before now… and to be honest, I’m not sure why I didn’t!

Take a look and you’ll find all kinds of interesting stories and confidential documents to download including lots more on the AstraZeneca story.

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