Introduction:

The
pharmaceutical market represents one of the most dynamic and controversial
markets. Its specific features are rooted in the specific nature of its
products and in the complex interests of the main constituents of market
demand. Finding ways to improve marketing practice in the pharmaceutical sector
lie in understanding marketing theory and best practice logic and comparing it
with on-going everyday practice. Sensitive circumstances of using
pharmaceuticals, their potential for abuse and harm, as well as a high level of
public scrutiny make pharmaceuticals one of the most challenging practices

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The competitive pressure in the Indian
Pharma market has been rising steadily for some time now (Ghosh et al., 2012).
The Indian Pharma market is having approx 20,000 registered manufacturers and
over 70,000 brands; reflecting brand clutter (Chiplunkar, 2009). However,
competitive pressures in the Indian market are likely to sustain as MNCs become
aggressive and domestic companies leverage on their expanded field force. This
is the reason why despite of increasing consolidation, the market continues to
remain highly fragmented with top ten Pharma companies accounting for only
35-40% of the market (Ghosh et al., 2012).

 

Further, pharma market is typical in
the sense that the doctors are the one who decides therapy and drugs for the
consumers (patients). So, marketers promote their products directly to doctors
to influence favorable prescription generation by them. Prescription behavior
of doctors further increases peculiarity as doctors’ choice is more logical for
choosing a therapy & drug molecule but when it comes to selecting a
particular brand their decision may be more inclined towards emotional and less
rational (Blackett, 2001).

 

Due to this fierce competition and
peculiar nature of the Indian Pharma market, promotional expenditure averages
20-35% of sales turnover of the industry mainly targeted at influencing the
prescription behavior of Doctors (PharmaBiz, 2007). Here, personal selling is
the most widely employed method in pharma marketing in India. Although very
costly in nature, it touches the essence of pharma marketing i.e. prescription
generation. Indian Pharma companies are spending a huge and ever-increasing
budget on doctors’ visits (sales calls by pharmaceutical representatives) for
this purpose.

 

At the same time, promotional budget
has further undergone many fold increase due to sampling, symposiums,
incentives etc. Yet marketers are in a great dilemma about what drives the
doctors towards a particular prescription behavior. Of these factors
influencing prescription behavior, some could be manipulated by the marketers
say sampling, frequency of medical representative’s visits (referred in the
study as marketing factors); while others may not be like doctor-patient
interaction, peer influence etc.

 

If various factors related to
marketing activities affecting doctors’ prescription behavior can be identified
and weighted, then this insight could contribute greatly in resolving the
controversy on how marketing efforts of pharmaceutical firms affect
prescription behavior. Further, such insights could help marketers in
maneuvering relevant factors for favorable prescription generation.

In
today’s highly competitive pharmaceutical market, marketers are increasingly
concentrating on studying the prescription trends and the prescribing behavior
of physicians (Chaganti, 2005; Bhardwaj & Jadeja, 2009). In this context,
current research attempts to examine the select marketing factors which
influence doctors’ prescribing decisions and to analyse the complex
interactions of such factors