This case is about Pfizer's launch of its popular drug, Viagra, in India. Viagra was first launched in the US, in 1998, with an extensive public relations campaign. Pfizer's promotional efforts also included celebrity endorsements and Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertisements. Though Viagra was a huge success for Pfizer initially, after seven years since its launch, the worldwide sales of Viagra had become stagnant. Pfizer introduced Viagra in India with a view to improve the sales of the drug. The market dynamics in India were very different from that of the US.
Viagra had to face competition from other low-priced generic versions of the drug. Moreover, brand-specific DTC advertisements were not allowed in India. The case discusses Pfizer's marketing strategy when it launched Viagra in India.
» Understand the critical success factors for a pharmaceutical company to make a successful entry in a new therapeutic segment.
» Understand the issues and constraints faced by pharmaceutical company in launching a globally successful brand in a new market.
» Understand the challenges faced by a company when launching its product in a price competitive environment.
"We strongly believe that there is an unmet need of the doctors. Patients are actually seeking introduction of the original Viagra." 1 - Kewal Handa, Managing Director, Pfizer Ltd. (PL),2 in 2005. "I don't think doctors will prescribe Viagra. When we have economical options available, why prescribe the costly one?" 3 - Dr. B.K. Roy, Endocrinologist and Hormone Specialist, Sex and Hormone Center, New Delhi, in 2005.
'Vitamin V' For India
On December 26, 2005, Pfizer Inc. (Pfizer), the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, rolled out its blockbuster drug Viagra (Sildenafil citrate) in India. Viagra, a popular and widely used drug to treat erectile dysfunction4 (ED) in men, is also known by various nicknames such as 'Vitamin V' and 'the little blue pill'. |Pfizer launched Viagra in India seven years after the launch of the drug in the US. The process patent regime 5 prevalent in India at the | |time the drug was launched in the US made Pfizer apprehensive about generic competition from Indian companies and hence its reluctance to | |launch Viagra in India earlier. | | | |As a result, various Indian pharmaceutical companies had launched their own generic clones of the drug since 2001. | | | |As of 2005, there were more than 40 local versions of the drug available in the Indian market. |
Pfizer also surprised most industry analysts and doctors by pricing Viagra at Rs 594 for a 100 mg tablet and Rs 463 for a 50 mg tablet. And this when most of the local versions of the drug were available at Rs 20 or less (for a 50 mg tablet). Some industry experts felt that Pfizer's launch of Viagra in India had come too late as there were already many local versions of the drug available.
|Many doctors too were of the opinion that ED patients did not get any additional benefit out of Viagra, when compared to local versions, to| |justify its high price. However, despite its late entry and premium pricing, Pfizer was confident of capturing 10%-15% of the ED market in | |India within the first one to two years of Viagra's launch. The launch of Viagra in India came at a time when the drug's global sales were | |stagnating. Competitor brands Levitra co-marketed by GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) and Bayer AG, and more particularly Cialis developed by...