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Takeda to launch 'radically different' approach to NHS

Published on 02/07/04 at 10:28am


Takeda UK has unveiled plans for what it calls a 'radically different' structure to its sales operations designed to liberate sales managers, meet NHS and patients' needs and boost sales of its leading products.

The company is to make redundant all but 16 of its current 168 staff, scrapping its entire field salesforce and using contract sales organisation Ashfield to manage a new breed of sales and marketing executives called regional account directors (RADs) who will be free to tailor sales and marketing strategies to their customers as they see fit.

The network of 45 RADs across the UK will have complete operational autonomy in their area, with a broad range of responsibilities including sales strategy and tactics, generating new ideas and initiatives, key opinion leader development and negotiating with the NHS.  

The unprecedented move comes against a background of an escalating salesforce 'arms race' to win share of voice and prescriptions, an approach which analysts say is increasingly failing to show return on investment.

Takeda says the radical re-think emerged from the normal business planning cycle, where data from the field showed areas covered by sales reps often produced no better results than those not covered.

Moreover, the company says it is responding to demands from NHS professionals and PCTs for an entirely new relationship to reflect the changes in the health service over the last few years.

"The company came to the belief that the NHS is adopting change so rapidly, and is asking for a very different level of service from the industry," a spokesman for the company told Pharmafocus.

"That generally accepted in the industry but no individual company appears to have addressed this in a meaningful way". Asked whether the move was really about reducing overheads, she replied: "This is not cost-cutting, it about changing the investment model."

"We recognise that the industry needs to review its level of sales and marketing spend - the current approach is not necessarily working in the best interests of our customers, including patients. Takeda says its new approach is designed to allow the RADs to switch from the traditional three line detail to a model that is patient focused, not product focused.  GPs remain very important, it insists, but the new model is about communicating with them in a very different way.

"If you really believe in the concept that the patient is absolutely your ultimate customer, then you have to behave very differently. Patient health outcomes is what it is all about, so that is what we are going to focus on," the spokesman added.  

Takeda has two major products hypertension drug Amias (also marketed by AstraZeneca separately) and diabetes treatment Actos which the company believes can gain market share through the new business model's greater alignment with NHS priorities such as the coronary heart disease and diabetes National Service Frameworks (NSFs).

The company is now advertising for candidates to take on the 45 RAD roles, promising a level of operational autonomy currently unheard of in the industry, with decision-making powers and freedom from unnecessary administrative obligations and internal meetings.

"Takeda has made a cutting edge decision to shift from a traditional pharmaceutical industry approach to its new model. Its confidence in being able to do this rests on its products' ability to deliver patient health outcomes. That possible because it is fleet of foot in terms of size and structure relative to larger pharmaceutical companies."

A statutory consultation period with the company current employees will end in August. The Japanese company has operations in a number of other countries, but these will continue to operate unchanged.

Takeda UK has launched a website to attract candidates for the RAD positions,

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