IDMA organises conference on ‘Current Challenges & Opportunities in Pharma Marketing’
Usha Sharma – Mumbai
The Indian Drug Manufactures’ Association’s (IDMA) Marketing and MSME Sub-committees recently organised a day-long conference on ‘Current Challenges and Opportunities in Pharma Marketing’ in Mumbai. The conference provided a platform to the pharmaceutical executives to understand the issues and opportunities that exist in pharma marketing.
The organiser committee of the conference invited key faces from the Indian pharma industry who are experts in their respective arenas. The day-long conference witnessed speakers like Narayan B Gad, Director, Gadtech, Salil Kallianpur, Commercial Head CVM Virology, Oncology and Biosimilars, GlaxoSmithKline, Atul Hadap, SBU Head, Ranbaxy Laboratories, Priti Mohile, Managing Director, MediaMedic Communications, Nandakumar Shetty, GM Marketing, Cachet Pharmaceuticals, Dr Sanjoy Mitra, Managing Director, Strategic Marketing Solutions and Research Centre (SMSRC) and Dr RK Sanghavi, Clinician and Consultant Healthcare Neuromarketing. The conference comprised more than 50 participants.
Vinay Pinto, Chairman, IDMA Marketing Subcommittee inaugurated the conference, which was followed by various sessions. Gad explained the importance of training programmes for marketing representatives (MRs) and elaborated on how this training helps them to have non-negative attitudes. He highlighted the need and importance of having a positive approach, communicating well and delivering the message in an appropriate manner to his/her doctors as it might help MRs to build a better rapport with the doctors.
Kallianpur, (in his individual capacity), presented various aspects of progress in pharma sales and marketing. He pointed out that multinational pharma companies spend more on research and development whereas domestic pharma companies believe in spending more on different M’s (marketing, management etc.) than in R&D. He emphasised that the approach and attitude should be transactional and not emotional. He justified his stance by giving Lipitor’s example and said that soon after patent expiry of Lipitor, its generics came into the market and doctors chose the generics over the branded product. He also said that in today’s scenario, key challenges for pharma companies are price, innovation and value.
Kallianpur raised a valid point during the conference and said that none of the pharma companies have their patients’ data and none of their products have been developed based on the requirements of the diseases from the company’s previous drugs data registry. He urged pharma companies to work in this area and generate data to re-use it for developing new molecules. He stated that only then we can say that there is an innovation drive. “I feel nothing has changed in the pharma industry. The industry has remained the same as it was 40 years before,” opined Kallianpur.
Pharma companies spend considerable amount on marketing and brand building activities. Pharma companies need to decide where they should allocate their budget for such activities. Hadap emphasised, “Key opinion leaders (KOL) cannot be held responsible for business. They are only for influence/endorsement whereas key business leaders (KBLs) are responsible for the business. So before venturing into a new market or business, pharma companies need to identify the KOLs and then accordingly decide where pharma companies have to allocate the KOL budget.“
He stressed the point that KOL should be a part of the marketing budget in pharma companies and marketing is a part of KOL engagement. He said that KOL engagements help companies to grow their brands and that’s why KOL budget should be part of the promo budget. Moving forward, he suggested cutting down the budget on giving literature, table products and samples. He urged to pharma companies to spend these amounts on KOLs which will give a long term benefit.
Shetty shared insights about the exercise followed in the pharma companies. He pointed out how pharma companies fail after launching a product /division. He rightly pointed out that launches should be based on analysis not on just instincts. The conference ended with a round table discussion and a Q&A session.