4 Marketing Strategies by which Pharmaceutical Companies Influence Doctors
So the widespread study of Doctors though four major districts helped to draw important conclusions and to suggest improvements in the marketing structure, strategies, and policies of pharmaceutical companies.
Based on rigorous analysis of the data and information collected during the survey from four districts, it is observed that Cipla’s strategies are very aggressive and competitive as per the need and wants of the doctors. Therefore these product promotional strategies are critically evaluated and summarized as
1. Physician’s samples utilization strategy to generate prescriptions:
This strategy means a special promotional campaign at doctors level to increase the prescriptions of the product/product range that includes free distribution of physician’s samples, gifts, literatures, detail talk, etc. to remind the product on the top of the doctors mind.
Physician’s Sample Utilization Strategy and Their Relative Cost:
Marketing activityCost (percent)
1. Physician’s samples, gifts31
2. Direct mail/advertising/public relations5
3. Post-marketing research8
5. Sponsorships/books/other expenditures9
6. Group meetings/party19
7. O.P.D. camps/video programs9
8. Direct-to-consumer advertising 8
9. Other activities5
Above table depicts the relative cost incurred for physician’s sample and group meeting is 50 percent of the total activities undertaken to promote sales activities. But on the other hand, on,an average per day a doctor receives 11 to 15 numbers of medical representatives’ calls. A Medical representative visit doctors, both general practitioners and specialists, typically to discuss and provide the scientific information about the company’s products and also to implement the marketing activity.
From the survey conducted across, 80 percent of doctor’s prefer sample pack, 18 percent prefer retail pack and only 2 percent do not accept physician’s sample. Therefore new sampling strategies should be built on the key fact that physicians have found samples to be an integral part of their patient service.
On the other hand, aluminum and blister pack is most preferable amongst all. Pharmaceutical Companies, uses all its packaging in either aluminum or blister as per doctor’s preference and liking. There are few doctors those prefer two or more month’s full course of sample therefore Cipla’s strategy of heavy sampling commensurate to it. Also direct mailing, journal advertisement, active participation in medical conference and providing direct information though Internet with their exclusive web site cipladoc.com that is another mode to influence the prescription of the doctor. As 70 percent of doctors reads mail regularly and remaining 30 percent reads only selective.
Many of the advertisements in scientific medical journals and other magazines aimed at doctors are advertisements of pharmaceutical products. The amount of product information an advertisement can provide is very limited. Advertisements are therefore aimed at creating brand awareness or communicating one or two properties of the product.
Doctors also receive mailings from pharmaceutical companies. Through these mailings companies can provide product information and/or invite doctors to a promotion event, course, or symposium. Physicians are obliged to participate in Continuing Medical Education (CME).
Approximately half of the CME-courses followed by GP’s are organized by or on behalf of pharmaceutical firms. Medical conferences can be roughly divided into three separate categories: scientific conferences; post-graduate educational conferences; symposia. Companies like Cipla targets the anti-asthmatic range to general practitioners through C.M.E., group meetings, and O.P.D. camps.
Comparative Effect of Various Factors on Prescription of the Doctors
Personal relation with M.R.1
Above table depicts the most effective factors to influence the prescription behavior of the doctor. As per the survey the respondent (doctor) has given the prime importance to personal relation with Medical Representatives and sponsorships and relative preference given to the symposia and medical conference. Also 55 percent of respondents believes in an integral role of Medical Representatives and voted against the replacement of medical representatives by direct mail started by few companies.
Strategies of Pharmaceutical Companies are commensurate with the market demand of arranging sponsorships and symposia for doctors for its specialty range like anti-asthmatic and cardiac therapy on regular basis to pass on the therapeutic information related to their products.
But very true fact is that they believe in aggressive marketing instead of purely depend on the role of medical representative and they could have done better if they believed in this concept. But the survey provides an opportunity to stress on personal relationships so as to face the coming challenges in the market.
2. Strategies for Individual doctor’s sponsorships:
Certain segment of pharmaceutical market is purely depending on the attitude of the doctors and they define the trend of the market as they having high potential to prescribe the product and high expectations from the company side. Many of the respondent believe in the fact that they should have professional attitude as far as individual sponsorships is concerned but few respondent (senior doctors) feels that this policy may spoil the ethics of the pharmaceutical field.
Pharmaceutical Companies, framed the strategies as per changing market demand and focuses on individual doctor’s sponsorships those who are loyal to the company, as they are ‘cash cows’ and help to retain the customer for a long term.
3. Fieldwork strategy of pharmaceutical companies:
Medical representative is the key source to implement marketing strategy to its most important customer i.e. Doctor. So the fields work strategy includes regular visits to the doctor as brand reminder and convince him to prescribe all promoted products.
As most of doctor’s emphases on usefulness of regular visits, medical representative should get updated information, scientific data and technological changes about the product. Areas of strength of Pharmaceutical Companies, includes aggressive field work strategy backed by highly motivated and enthusiastic field staff includes following aspects
A) Setting Priorities for the Doctors:
As per the result of analyzed retail data of the area, the priority product is to select for that doctor and as per it call planning is to be done. Local companies that they might have judge their opinion doctors by random call planning that increases the risk in lowering the prescription support from doctors. Therefore Cipla strategy for priority product is very realistic and has long-term objectives to retain the customer.
B) Justification about Input Planning and Setting Priorities:
A proper input planning definitely influences the prescription behaviour of the doctor and as per the priority of the product and expected sales from a specific doctor. Therefore Pharmaceutical Companies, provides guideline for their field force justifies the inputs and use for maximum mileage in terms of prescription from the doctors.
C) Presentation Technique of Physician’s Samples:
It involves detail talk and presentation technique to use for the physician’s samples as per the doctor’s specialty, priority, and personal needs. Most importantly it involves technique of sample presentation as a brand reminder as per the quantity described.
D) Adding Values in Gifts and Other Inputs:
A detail talk has been prepared to add the values in gifts and other inputs like prescription pads, pens etc. in the doctor’s clinic.
E) Mannerism in Clinic:
Pharmaceutical Companies, conducts a continuous training program for their field force regarding mannerism to greet doctors before and after the call. Thus a good mannerism makes a call very effective and fruitful.
F) Reminders and Priorities another Way to Become a Closer to the Doctor:
It is very important to give reminders and his priority products at the time while leaving the clinic. A ‘reminder’ that involves leave behind literatures, printed materials etc. that keeps the brand name at the top of the doctor’s mind.
4. Diversified strategy of pharmaceutical companies:
Diversity in activities in pharmaceutical marketing puts the continuous pressure on doctors to prescribe the product regularly. Pharmaceutical Companies, uses this strategy very effectively and it includes the following Promotion event
1. Short presentation for invited doctors by a medical representative about the product(s). Such events are often combined with some hospitality like tea and snacks. Such conducted events found to be a major policy for anti-asthmatic product range and often used in major hospitals, polyclinics etc. *
2. Pharmaceutical Companies, provides Research sponsorships to conduct scientific research to have a concrete data related to its product features that proven its importance by the brand Keflor (the first Iron Chelator for Thalassemia) has grown considerable response to increase prescription from nephrology’s and also to some extent publishing research results. In addition, research sponsorships may also influence the researcher’s behavior in his role as a doctor. These sponsorships also have effects outside pharmaceutical markets. They stimulate the creation of scientific knowledge.
3. Pharmaceutical Companies, pays to Opinion leader doctors to give presentations during seminars, symposia, product promotional events, and CME courses and indirectly promotes their products.
4. Direct-to-consumer advertising Due to the trend that patients have become more assertive consumers has become interesting targets for pharmaceutical marketing as well. So to reach up to the consumer pharmaceutical companies through the mass media and through folder material available in public pharmacies and doctors’ waiting rooms. Pharmaceutical Companies, has tapped this opportunity and started giving television advertisement about social awareness asthma helps the company to increase the sale of their anti-asthmatic device Rotahaler.
The large diversity of pharmaceutical marketing activities comprises activities that are common in other sectors as well, such as detailers (medical representatives), advertising, and direct mail. But there are also activities that are more specific for the Pharmaceutical Companies., such as conducting post-marketing research, organizing courses for doctors and research sponsorships.
Complementarities and synergies between them can possibly explain the diversity in activities. A good example of such a synergy is the combination of symptom advertising aimed at consumers (for the product like anti-obesity ‘Obestat’ where they are written as, “Are you suffering from obesity.., consult your doctor.”) and a simultaneous mailing to doctors reminding them of your product against this condition.