Ethics in Pharma Marketing

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INTRODUCTION

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

THE pharmaceutical market in India today is worth Rs.57206 crores up from Rs. 5000 crores in 1995*. It is one of the fastest growing markets with a growth rate of around 15%. India has a large number of Pharmaceutical companies which operate in an environment of high competition. The competition is even higher in a high generic market like in India where drugs are in fierce price competition. It is estimated that there are around 20,000 pharmaceutical companies* in India, competing for a share of the market, in a poorly regulated environment. To be ahead in the race, pharmaceutical companies are investing highly in marketing and promotion of their drugs. The Consumer International Report 2010, on an average, the Indian Pharmaceutical companies spend almost 30% of their revenue in drug promotion which is one of the highest percentage in the world.

Drug promotional strategies are communication strategies through which Pharmaceutical companies convey the benefits of their products and services to their target customers. The World Organization defines promotion of drugs as all information providing and persuasive activities by drug manufacturers and distributors, which influences the prescription, supply, purchase and/or use of medical drugs.

In India, the promotion of drugs is fairly pervasive and has become a part of the everyday life of most doctors. Virtually all medical journals contain advertisements of different drugs, doctors are provided unsolicited information on new drugs by the pharmaceutical companies and branded drugs are directly marketed to the consumers. However, many marketing strategies are far more personal; involving provision of gifts to the doctors, sponsoring certain educational or social activities for the physicians and cultivating a close relationship between the company’s Medical Representatives (MRs) and the physicians. This interaction and relations between the...
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