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Humanist, humorist

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

India: GSK Whistleblower Names and Shames - Part I




Navneet Kumar started his career with GSK India (Roorkee HQ) on March 2011 where he was assigned to meet doctors on daily a basis to persuade them to prescribe GSK drugs to their patients and to visit other Health Care Professionals (pharmacists, etc.) Kumar also used to organize 'Doctor Roundtable' meetings, and 'Continuing Medical Education' (CME) meetings for GSK product promotions. His job also saw him report to his Area Business Manager (ABM), Mr. Jitendra Singh Chauhan and indirectly to his Regional Business Manager (RBM), Sanjeev Jolly.

Kumar was awarded the 'Super Star' for his excellent sales performance and was given the opportunity to travel to Dubai (paid for by GSK). Many other sales awards were won by Kumar, and all seemed fine with his chosen career at GSK India, that was until he started to notice many irregularities, discrepancies, and became the victim of harassment for not adhering to the unethical sales pressures bestowed upon him by GSK management.

And now, Kumar no longer wants to remain quiet.

Kumar alleges that he and colleagues wrote to GSK Senior Management on the 29th December 2012 about a violation.

Septran (trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole) is a combination of two antibiotics used to treat ear infections, urinary tract infections, bronchitis, traveler's diarrhea, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. 

On each last working day of the month, Kumar collected orders from stockists. Stockists, according to Kumar, are people who are authorized to buy drugs directly from the company and supply those drugs to chemists or doctors whilst adding their 10% margin.

Kumar told me:

"Stockists buy drugs from the company. Now, let us take an example - GSK's branded drug Septran has a maximum retail price of 100 Rupees. The price to retailers (chemists, etc) costs around 23.5%, around 76 rupees. Now, the same drug will cost stockists 10% less, around 66 rupees because stockists directly buy from the company. 

"Now. it was my manager who was forcing drug reps to do an adjustment. An adjustment is where we have to establish a mutual understanding with stockists. We force them to sell drugs at lower prices like if something is costing them 66 rupees we have to force them to sell the drug on for 60 rupees or even less. This how extra sales will be done. 

"The difference will be paid to stockists by drug reps through their incentive bonus and some part of their salary. This is the cost of staying in the job at GSK.

Managers earn their incentives by threatening the reps. If a drug rep reaches his targets automatically managers will achieve their targets. But the drug rep has to make an adjustment so the money he earns will go to the stockists. Managers earn incentives without any hurdles."




By "hook or by crook"

Kumar alleges that his Regional Business Manager, Sanjeev Jolly (pictured above), told him to reach his sales targets by "hook or by crook". Further, Kumar alleges that Jolly threatened to take action against him if he "didn't do as he was told."

In a nutshell, Kumar tells me, Jolly was telling him to pay his stockist out of his own pocket whilst Jolly reaped the monetary benefits.

According to Kumar, the standard operating procedure at GSK specifies that a drug rep should not be involved in any money-related matters with their stockists.

Other GSK reps have, in the past, received the same kind of threats from Jolly, Kumar and, as a result, saw them write an email to top officials at GSK. According to Kumar GSK's sales reps complained when Jolly instructed them to place an order of 100 cases of Septran tablets.

A grievance meeting was conducted at GSK's New Delhi HQ, Jolly apologized and, well, that was that. GSK officials took no disciplinary action against Jolly.

Jolly's LinkedIn page can be found here - His tagline says that he is an "inquisitive marketeer with an undying thirst to learn and achieve."

According to Kumar, he was the most senior rep but after the grievance meeting against Jolly he was transferred from his hometown to Dehradun (another GSK HQ) in 2015 without any given reason. That's when the harassment started. Kumar told me, "He started harassing me with the help of two Area Business Manager's (ABM), Jitendra Singh Chauhan and Manish Sachdev. They collaborated in handing me a Dealer list on which achieving the company objective was very difficult. Chauhan also sent me unnecessary emails and pressured me to carry out unethical work practices."

This harassment didn't stop at Jolly. Kumar told me that his ABM, Jitendra Singh Chauhan, "...took a massive advantage of his position. He used to send me phone messages at midnight, non-working days and holidays. He used to call me from his home for personal work. When I started objecting to his unnecessary demands, he started taking advantage of his position to harass me even more. He created false allegations against me and started making his own rules whilst overlooking the company guidelines."

Chauhan (Seen below as 'ABM Boss' (1)) told Kumar he wanted him to call 12 dealers per day. The company guideline, however, stipulates that reps will meet no more than 6.5 dealers per day (2)


(1)

(see Work Norms/Rules a) and e(i)
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE


(2)

"I will finish your career, you and your family will be out on the street."

In effect, Chauhan was almost doubling the workload of Kumar, who believes the unrealistic request to target 12 dealers a day was an effort to get him to resign. I've seen many screenshots of the text messages and, it appears, Chauhan was, in many instances,  sending messages just before and after midnight.

Kumar, despite the demands being put on him, decided to continue working, he would not resign. 

Sometime later, however, he was called into a meeting at GSK's New Delhi office by Sanjeev Jolly. Kumar told me:
"I thought he called me for in for a training program . In a closed room he gave me a white paper and I was asked to submit my resignation. I was shocked and refused to resign. He started threatning me and told me "I will finish your career" and that, "You and your family will be out on the street." He also told me that he will not allow any company to recruit me.
"I was under immense pressure to resign but I didn't. I asked him to provide reasons for why he is doing all these things. Then he presented a charge-sheet in front of me and, once again, asked me to resign. I decided to go with the charge-sheet rather than resignation. He (Jolly) did the same thing with my ex-colleague some months previously, he, like me, was called to the New Delhi office, and under pressure from Jolly, he resigned. This a pattern by GSK management to threaten the employee and they usually resign because the pressure is overwhelming for them. I didn't do that."

Coming up in Part II


  • How Navneet alleges that there is no code of conduct amongst GSK India's senior management
  • More evidence of retaliation and harassment
  • Alleged forgery by GSK management
  • Emails to former GSK CEO, Andrew Witty, GSK's Global Head of Investigation, Jason Lord, and current CEO, Emma Walmsley, and some other top officials of GSK
  • For the first time, Kumar will reveal a document that, so far, has been unseen by the public.


Bob Fiddaman

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