Monday, October 22, 2007


Paradigm is a framework of values, concepts, and ideas. A paradigm serves as a model or pattern. The la-affaire Exubera goes down in management case study books as a victim of a paradigm shift in the world of Pharma marketing. The paradigm shift we are talking about can be christened as the cyber paradigm. It is a powerful new frontier in healthcare, which will only get more and more powerful in days to come. In fact, this paper here identifies the cyber paradigm phenomenon as a driving force of 21st century business. The article uses the term New Generation Internet (NGI) that describes the phenomenon, which will drive marketing communication, business, and social life.

Cyberspace and Pharma marketing

Healthcare is one of the most important reasons why the advanced world and many in the emerging markets are logging on to the internet. The information superhighway has also created opinion builder bloggers like Amy in the case of diabetes. Conversations in the cyberspace (blogs, message boards, healthcare websites…) are building opinions about products and influencing consumption patterns.

The patent paradigm

In the pre-internet days, life was simpler for Pharma companies. You had to innovate a dosage formulation or invent a drug, patent the product (that assures a monopoly market), build a clinical database, market it to target doctors using some SOPs (seminars, conference sponsorships, freebies, gifts, etc), and more importantly doctors had the authority to ensure patient compliance through prescriptions and counseling. However, the advent of the internet has changed the rules of the Pharma marketing game. The patent and market paradigm for Pharma products is no longer robust. Disruptive forces in markets are creating newer uncertainties that are challenging established business models. Thus, the patent and market model for Pharma markets is under siege. As this web ( says aloud disruptive forces are flattening the world and creating new opportunities and threats. In fact, IT (internet) is empowering people with healthcare information and tools in a way as never before in human history and this is causing disruptions in existing Pharma business models.

The challenge is to understand Pharma and Healthcare market behavior and the disruptive forces

The foremost challenge for Pharma and healthcare companies, today, is to understand the target market behavior, trends, and the disruptive forces in the market. Among the current forces to change the dynamics of Pharma and healthcare product consumption is the cyber paradigm and this trend is here to stay, and only gain momentum in days to come. With web 2.0 metamorphosis to web 3.0 where intuitive search results and a higher level of interactivity is expected, the internet will be ubiquitous in our social behavior. Already people are watching the cyberspace on Google Health and Microsoft’s Healthvault.

Exubera story

The Exubera story is not that of a product failure per se. It is about a Pharma product that got tossed in the Pharma and Healthcare cybersea full of eddies, currents, and storms. Exubera was like the ship Titanic (the product was huge), and the product hit a huge iceberg on the cybersea. The iceberg was unmapped netizen behavior. Only the tip was visible and the rest was not understood. The result Exubera…is a multi billion dollar loss case study in Pharma marketing.

The internet is changing the way people understand and access healthcare. The market will increasingly become OTX (a combination of over-the-counter and prescription based) rather than prescription dominated.

The moral of the Exubera story

IT IS PERILOUS TO IGNORE THE CYBER PARADIGM IN PHARMA AND HEALTHCARE. The net is not about nerds it is about you, I, and other ‘non-nerds’.

Kindly do read my other blogposts too, by clicking on OLDER POSTS, when required.
For titanic sinking:


Susil said...

Pharma as well healthcare domain is an evergreen domain since it works from ancient time for the welfare of humanrace. Priesently ther are lots of applied branches are there which are good as per career perspective as well as the increaging the average life of human being. A no of software companies are now switching towards project in life sciences. project.

sunil said...

Welcome Susil - nice 2 see u here.

IT/ITES/BPO/Consulting companies are fast becoming the brainstrust of the world in various domains including healthcare. The ability to add value to information and convert it to knowledge that helps create actionable approaches is what distinguishes this segment. It is becoming a wired digital and collaborative world.