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Continued from last……
Only about ten years ago, reaching one billion rupees annual sale was news for any Local Pharma. Few companies had been able to achieve that feat. Then the landscape changed. Billions were counted left, right and center. There are many individual brands which are in billions now. Brands like Risek, Nexium, Esso, Dicloran, Oxidil and many more are worth billions of rupees individually. What happened to the market? Did Local Pharma do some very special marketing?
As mentioned in the last blog, all things being more or less equal in generic products, the difference created was in Customer Services.
The MNCs felt greatly threatened by the rise of generic industry in Pakistan. They had knowledge, and they had money and they started playing on these strengths. They offered the senior physicians to participate in international academic conferences under their sponsorship. It was nothing new. MNCs had been doing it long before, but the share of Pakistan used to be negligible. That share was increased manifold. They also offered physicians to become part of international trials of new products which was a matter of pride and recognition for local physicians.
My view is that the race was started by the MNCs. Local Pharma picked it up in reaction, bettered it and took it to new dimensions.
In a matter of few years, Local Pharma was not competing with MNCs; they were competing with each other. This is where we are now.
Customer Services now form a major part of promotional activities for all progressive, growing companies. These include academic activities, patient-oriented programs, various screening programs, sponsorships, get-togethers and so on.
There is one area which I would particularly mention. This is local conferences organized by societies of various specialties. All specialties have developed their professional societies where their members are enrolled. Once every year, there is a major conference of each society where their members gather. There are paper presentations, poster presentations, panel discussions etc. It is a big event which obviously gets bigger every year. The conference budgets run into millions of rupees. Pharma companies sponsor this activity in many ways. Such conferences are invariably accompanied by medical exhibition. Pharma companies buy stall spaces and showcase their products. This is another way in which Pharma companies contribute to the conference budget.
Does the ever-evolving Customer Services package really influence the physicians’ prescriptions negatively? The jury is still out on this question. There are arguments on both sides of the debate. Some people project that the services influence the prescription hugely; others say it does not.
Logically, customer services are not likely to influence the prescriptions significantly. It is because the supply of customer services is more than its demand. It is what they call a ‘buyers’ market’. When buyers (customers) have more power, they will not go out of their way to get what they need or desire. They will simply ask and many sellers would rush to bring it to their doorstep.
Customer Service is an integral part of all commercial activities. Pharmaceuticals is also a commercial activity and should not be expected to be an exception.
This series is concluded.
Next, I shall discuss how the generic industry has contributed to the healthcare in Pakistan.