Who is responsible for shrinking marketing productivity of Indian Pharma Market?

India is now known as the diabetes capital of the world, known as the land of prosperity for Pharmaceutical drug makers. Rising incomes and increasing lifestyle diseases & demand of health well-being have resulted in 14 percent CAGR of IPM.

Because of no legal provisions on prescription-drug advertising & no other options other than direct sellings, Pharma companies have been adapting age-old traditional strategies to increase their sales forces as the best way to grab a larger pie of the $15.5 billion IPM. India’s largest pharmaceutical companies—including Sun Pharma, Abbott, Lupin, Dr Reddy’s, Cipla, Zydus  & Mankind have reached to a field force size of more than 5,000.

IPM has close to 80088 brands (excluding biological, vaccines, oncology etc.) as per IMS June’2016 data. About 84 percent of prescriptions are branded generics, and pharma companies seek to differentiate these products by giving them their propriety name.

“When prescribing medication, physicians recalls the brand names rather than non-propriety names so Pharma companies make their strategies to position their brands on the top of physician’sPharmaCrunch reps per call recall list”

With increasing number of reps & number of brands in each one’s kitty actually, has shrunk the time to pitch sales from being science-driven to brand name reminders. Every practitioner can devote a limited time to attend Pharma sales reps call. In the same time frame, the rapid increase in a number of reps with more number of brands has reduced the desired exposure limits. In the competitive industry, where there are not provisions of prescription-drug advertising and local prohibitions on pharmacists substitutiMedical-Representativeng one maker’s pills for those of another, every Pharma company is expanding their sales forces size as the best way to grab a larger slice of the $15.5 billion Pharma market in India. Some of the Pharma companies are adding their headcounts because of peer pressures & to show their muscle power to industry.

A medical representative is a salesperson selling lifesaving drugs, not just like selling beverage products? Each meeting allows on an average 90 seconds to each sales rep to detail all strategically targeted products as directed by the marketing team. At the same time, physicians are also expected to grab the differentiation of products in 90 sec multiplied by 3 visits equals 270 sec.

So how could a doctor understand the features vs. benefits of products in merely 300 sec. that too in 3 consecutive meetings?

  1. Is this a failure of marketing efforts, sales force effectiveness, physician’s status quo or the entire promotional ecosystem of Indian Pharmaceutical Market?
  2. Should Pharma companies specialise in therapies & divest the portfolio not contributing to their kitty for the collective benefits of industry, physicians & patients as well.

Many other questions we should consider worth addressing.

  1. Do we require evaluating our marketing philosophy once again?
  2. Should we challenge the marketing practices way beyond UCPMP & should seek to reduce the increasing pressures of engagements between physicians & sales force for persuading prescriptions?
  3. Do we really require so many medical sales specialists or should we cap the number of the sales rep?

As per a report by Mckinsey, on an average, there are at least three medical reps over each 10 doctors as a national average. The same is reverse in case of metro cities; there are 10 medical reps over each 3 doctors in a day on an average.

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Pradeep Agarwal

Marketing - AstraZeneca
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