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King Sales Reps File Labor Law Suit Against Pfizer

King Sales Reps File Labor Law Suit Against Pfizer [The Day, New London, Conn.]

From Day, The (New London, CT) (October 28, 2010)

Oct. 28--Pfizer Inc. faces labor problems tied to a company it just agreed to purchase.

The labor problems revolve around a lawsuit filed this week by a former salaried sales representative for King Pharmaceuticals, a Tennessee-based company Pfizer agreed to buy this month for $3.6 billion. The lawsuit, filed by David Heldman as a class action, makes a familiar allegation in the pharmaceutical field: that sales reps are being denied overtime in violation of federal law.

"Drug makers argue their sales reps are, indeed, outside salespeople who close sales because the primary customer is the physician," said Ed Silverman’s pharmaceutical blog Pharmalot, which broke the story Wednesday at

Overtime suits by pharmaceutical sales reps have had a mixed history of success. While the U.S. Department of Labor has filed briefs in support of the sales reps, judges have ruled against them in three out of seven cases tried, according to a report on the pharmaceutical blog Placebo Effect by Jim Edwards at

"The most interesting part of the suit is the question of what would happen if Pfizer’s own, core reps followed their colleagues into court," Edwards said. "It would be the largest suit of its kind, potentially affecting more reps than any others so far."

But Edwards pointed out that a previous ruling in a suit against Alpharma, a King Pharmaceuticals unit that Pfizer now is in the process of purchasing, went in favor of the drug company. The federal judge in that case ruled sales reps’ independence made them salaried managers.

"But it’s not a sure thing that the King suit will follow the Alpharma suit," Edwards noted.

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Posted: October 2010

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