Pharma Salesman Fired for Calling Drugs "Big Bucket of Money"

A major pharmaceutical company has fired one of its sales managers after he called drugs “a big bucket of money," CNBC's Mike Huckman reported.

Mike Zubillaga, a former regional oncology drug sales director at AstraZeneca, lost his job after sending the unauthorized message in a newsletter to his reps, Huckman said.

The newsletter was designed to be a motivational tool but led instead to a public outcry after bloggers drew attention to this quote:

“Do not take no for an answer," Zubillaga said. "There is a bucket of money sitting in every doctor’s office. Every time you go in . . . you reach your hand in the bucket and grab a handful.”

Huckman interviewed former Viagra salesman, James Reidy, who wrote a book about selling Viagra for Pfizer.

“There will be a huge public outcry," Reidy said. "That’s why our drug prices are so high, because some middle-manager named Mike is referring to doctor’s offices as his own personal cash register."

Huckman also went to Zubillaga's house outside of Philadelphia to get his side of the story, but the former sales manager declined to be interviewed. Zubillaga’s attorney told Huckman he does not believe his client did anything wrong.

Four years ago, AstraZeneca had to pay more than $350 million due to a dispute over its sales tactics involving another cancer drug.