Monday, November 28, 2005

Cheerleaders selling drugs

Unable to persuade doctors as they had in the past - dinners, vacations, speaking fees - drug companies just hire pretty people. From the NY Times:
But many cheerleaders, and their proponents, say they bring attributes besides good looks to the job - so much so that their success has led to a recruiting pipeline that fuels the country's pharmaceutical sales force. T. Lynn Williamson, Ms. Napier's cheering adviser at Kentucky, says he regularly gets calls from recruiters looking for talent, mainly from pharmaceutical companies. "They watch to see who's graduating," he said.

"They don't ask what the major is," Mr. Williamson said. Proven cheerleading skills suffice. "Exaggerated motions, exaggerated smiles, exaggerated enthusiasm - they learn those things, and they can get people to do what they want."

Approximately two dozen Kentucky cheerleaders, mostly women but a few men, have become drug reps in recent years.

While there are no statistics on how many drug representatives are former or current cheerleaders, demand for them led to the formation of an employment firm, Spirited Sales Leaders, in Memphis. It maintains a database of thousands of potential candidates.

"The cheerleaders now are the top people in universities; these are really capable and high-profile people," said Gregory C. Webb, who is also a principal in a company that runs cheerleading camps and employs former cheerleaders. He started Spirited Sales Leaders about 18 months ago because so many cheerleaders were going into drug sales. He said he knew several hundred former cheerleaders who had become drug representatives.

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