Sunday, May 30, 2010


I got the above image from here.

A disturbing sms is doing the rounds:

Zydus Cadila area manager of Pune murdered by his own 4 medical reps by drill machine yesterday (ie., 28.5.2010)

This brings in to spotlight the importance of dyads and HRD in pharma companies.

The reality

In most pharma companies, the HRD dept. is only a paper tiger. They are a routing dept., for various personnel related matters. In top pharma companies, mainly the MNCs, the HRD dept. is a very crucial dept., involved in all matters of recruitment, development, promotion, and retirement or resignations of personnel, organizational culture, empowerment, HRD systems like career system, core values, socialization, organizational behavior modification, improving productive work behaviors, coaching, counseling, training, communication and organizational development.

However, the usual picture in pharma is that the various departmental heads look in to the HRD aspects in their sphere of control. This sort of an atmosphere prevails in most big Indian pharma companies too. Nevertheless, in a handful of companies like Ranbaxy (as per heresay) even the Marketing Director cannot 'sack' a medical representative unless HRD investigates, gives its report and consent!

Why is the present reality so?

HRD is a poorly appreciated subject in pharma India, including by top management personnel. Sales is the magnificent obsession of pharma management. Hence, principles of HRD and things like 360 degree assessment are given a routine treatment, if at all applied. In fact, 360 degree feedback is not adopted by most pharma companies. The norm in the Indian pharma market is that pharma companies operate with a feudal or semi-feudal mindset. Hence, there is a lack of appreciation of the finer aspects in HRD functioning and its ability to contribute to organizational efficiency and effectiveness.

As a seasoned HRD person once said about HRD in pharma: HRD is about salary, wages, the annual picnic or annual day and keeping the union at bay!!!

The winds of change are blowing

India is now a maturing market. Production or product or sales mindset in running pharma companies will have its limitations. A customer-centric mindset will be required. This includes internal and external customer management. Marketing with a customer-centric mindset is the need of the hour.

India is also coming of age with respect to improved level of educational attainments & expectations, employment options, and employee expectations.

The earlier norm of a manager was a tall man with a gruff & loud voice who seldom smiles! It was OK in the past perhaps until the late 1990s, but now? The era of hypercompetition has arrived in the Indian pharmaceutical market. More and more companies are interested in pharma marketing. Franchisee marketing/PCD marketing is a force to reckon with in pharma marketing. Hence, merely putting pressure on MRs, asking them to work harder, make more calls, get more POB etc will not give the desired sales outcomes. Marketing strategies, product selection, process management, customer-centric organizational working and the quality of HRD including organizational culture are mattering more than ever for sales results. The manager is a key, but the managerial competence is mattering more now, than the gruff voice!

A must read: GO KISS THE WORLD

Subroto Bagchi, the maverick co-founder and prime mover behind Mindtree (a prominent software company of India) has written beautifully about work philosophy and life in his book GO KISS THE WORLD. In this book Subroto Bagchi describes in detail how they went about founding and setting up Mindtree. What is striking to a reader about Subroto Bagchi's account of founding Mindtree is that it is not about creating some new fangled technology for Mindtree's success ... it is simply about creating the right organizational cultural DNA. It is in fact, HRD in action at Mindtree!!

In this book, Subroto keenly describes how he even takes help of external management consultants to help create a positive atmosphere in his company when things were looking gloomy (including businesswise) after the 9/11 Twin Tower fall due to terrorist attack.

Subroto describes the intense activity to develop intangibles like the logo of Mindtree (through specially challenged children), values, vision, and mission of Mindtree. In fact, this book is about how to generate values, vision, and a mission. Subroto gives the keen understanding that values are the glue in organizations, they provide unity of action, and ensure productive work behaviors.

The traditional corporate mindset in India, is that people need jobs, hence, salaries and some comfort level - this will ensure employees will work as per directives to ensure organizational objectives are met. However, the new trend of HRD, and humanism is that people are very vital assets and they need to be treated differently from material resources. The HRD assets require development - time and resources need to be invested for the same. HRD and people resources provide the sustainable competitive edge.

So what pharma India needs to do now is to take inspiration from GO KISS THE WORLD to avoid negative corporate episodes like the one at Pune (involving Zydus Cadila).


Dyad refers to the smallest social unit of two people. In pharma marketing companies an example of a very important dyad is the first-line manager and his MR. The strength of pharma companies comes from this dyad. When the first-line manager is very committed and competent, the MR team itself will be high performance oriented. If the first-line manager lacks character or competence or commitment, the MR team will be a demotivated one. Hence, pharma companies that develop the dyad through empowering programs stand to gain a lot.

Various unsavory events in pharma marketing (or for that matter in any department of a pharma company) occur due a weak dyad.

HENCE, A DYAD MANAGEMENT strategy at the company level will prove very useful.

Thanks for reading this blogpost, let us hope for better times, please scroll down to read other posts, click on older posts whenever required, be kind - recommend this blog to your acquaintances to your colleagues/acquaintances.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Return of the MNCs

I got the above image from here.

Sometime back Businessworld had reported that the branded generic biz of Piramal Healthcare may be up for sale. Piramal Healthcare was expected to concentrate on contract research and manufacture. Finally, this event happened - headlines in newspapers on 22.5.2010 was that Piramal Healthcare's branded generic biz was sold out to Abbott, the entire company is not sold out, only its main branded generic biz platform...

MNCs are back in action! LPG (liberalization, privatization and globalization) has paved the way for MNCs to get back in to the Indian pharma market with a bang. Pfizer, an American headquartered MNC, has the topmost brand in the Indian pharma market, ie., Corex (the codeine based anticough oral liquid formulation). This brand is followed by Phensydyl (another codeine phosphate anticough oral liquid formulation) - a brand owned by Piramal Healthcare.

Today, this brand too will be owned by another American pharma company - Abbott, a Illinois (USA) based MNC pharma company, which has purchased the Piramal Healthcare generic formulation business, by paying a hefty sum of 3.2 billion USD (ie., Rs. 17000 crores). MNCs are back and shopping for pharma companies with big shopping budgets!

A remarkable coincidence

With the acquisition of Phensydyl by Abbott along with the company it is purchasing (ie., Piramal Healthcare Solutions), both the codeine phosphate oral liquid anticough brands (ie., Corex and Phensydyl) with very high addictive potential, will be owned by American MNCs. What a coincidence, wonder what the karmic linkage is!!

Corex - Pfizer
Phensydyl - Abbott

Ajay Piramal: a consummate businessman

Ajay Piramal, Chairman of Piramal Healthcare, has got an unbeatable offer for his branded generic biz. The monies paid to him are 9 times the 2010 sales of Piramal Healthcare branded generic sales, 30 times the EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, and depreciation) and Mr. Piramal loses only one manufacturing unit at Baddi (Himachal Pradesh) to Abbott. Piramal Healthcare is a big pick for Abbott, Piramal Healthcare has a stunning 44% CAGR in market cap, (Piramal Healthcare's valuation has grown from Rs. 6 crores to Rs. 17000 crores in 22 years!), and as a standalone entity, it is in shooting distance of being the topmost pharma company in India (Cipla is India's topmost pharma firm - now, with Piramal being taken over by Abbott, this American MNC Abbott + Piramal combination is the topmost pharma firm of Indian pharma market) .

Abbott, thanks to Piramal Healthcare, is now the topmost (#1) pharma entity in India with 7% market share. Pharma companies in India are now getting fancy valuations, because MNC companies want to enter and play big in the Indian pharma market. BRIC countries are on the radar of MNCs. Ajay has chosen the moment to triumph. He is flush with Rs. 12000 crores cash to reinvest anywhere else (this money is after removing payments as capital gains tax and monies used for retiring debt). Abbott, in return, has reached the topmost perch in the Indian pharma market, it also has 350 brands from Piramal Healthcare, and 5000 odd field personnel from Piramal Healthcare - all thanks to Ajay Piramal!

The field personnel from Piramal Healthcare are highly trained, aggressive, and a motivated lot. Piramal Healthcare has a great image in the field including with stockists and pharmacies. Piramal Healthcare has always been viewed as a very professional and aggressive firm. The brands from Piramal Healthcare enjoy a great market penetration. So in that sense, Abbott is very lucky to pick Piramal. It is thanks to Piramal, Abbott has achieved what it could not have imagined to achieve.

There will be integration challenges in this acquisition. Indian pharma firms are known to be aggressive in giving gifts and sponsorships to doctors, and retail bonus offers to chemists. Abbott has been traditionally in the ethical pharma space without giving much freebies. Thus, the brand values of Piramal Healthcare's generic brands are due to these marketing activities, which Abbott will not indulge in, due to its code of marketing conduct. So how will Abbott maintain the marketing tempo?

The field personnel of Piramal Healthcare are used to the typical Indian style of pharma product promotion, how will they manage the marketing cultural shock when being integrated in to Abbott? Will Abbott maintain the brand sales without using the marketing strategies and tactics of Piramal Healthcare?! HAS ABBOTT CONSIDERED THESE MARKETING CULTURAL ASPECTS WHILE BUYING PIRAMAL HEALTHCARE? These are very interesting and challenging marketing questions.


While it is easy to assess the financial picture and make the purchase, Abbott will find it more difficult to maintain the marketing tempo, because of the cultural dichotomy between Piramal Healthcare and Abbott.

The great Indian pharma melting pot!

Two of the largest Indian pharma companies are lost to MNCs: Ranbaxy to Japanese Daiichi Sankyo, and Piramal Healthcare Solutions to the American company Abbott. Thus, we have European companies, Japanese companies, American companies and Indian companies in the Indian pharma marketplace. Truly, the Indian pharma market is a great melting pot! Companies of diverse nationalities are pouring in to this pot!

Torrent, Mankind, DRL, Cipla - which company next - on the shopping list of MNCs?! Let us wait and watch!

MNCs and biopharma: MNCs score over Indian pharma companies on the biopharma and research platform. Abbott has a no. of biopharma products and one can expect they will launch the same with gusto thanks to their enhanced field presence through acquisition of Piramal Healthcare Solutions. Abbott has done that which, Pfizer has not done! Abbott (not Pfizer) is India's biggest pharma entity (company)! As a global strategy, MNCs are looking to increasing the geographic reach, as it is besieged with lack on new products including absence of new blockbusters. By expanding presence in more markets, MNCs can improves sales outcomes.

A NEW ERA BEGAN, IN INDIAN PHARMA, IN 2008, WHEN RANBAXY WAS PURCHASED BY DAIICHI SANKYO. Now with the acquisition of Piramal Healthcare Solutions's 350 branded generics by Abbott, the pharma game gets more and more interesting! Thanks for reading this blogpost, let us hope for the best, do recommend this blog to your colleagues.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Among various heady brews, feni is a Goan drink that has many fans. In the above picture, we see a person making feni.

Last week at Guwahati on a work tour was very interesting. Many things have changed in the past 10 years. Guwahati is now more peaceful (ie., relatively speaking, compared to past). A developmental attitude is also there, thanks to the media that is changing mindsets in places like Guwahati.

Alcohol consumption on the upswing

During my 18 odd years of travel, if I have seen any noticeable trend, year after year, it is of ever increasing consumption of alcoholic beverages (not only in Guwahati but elsewhere too). In the early 1990s, seeing families in bar and restaurants was a rarity. Today, it is not so. Consuming alcoholic beverages is seen as thrilling - that which provides a sense of elation & excitement, a feel good activity, or a habit that helps overcome sense of remorse. Westernization too is having a major impact on Indians. Supermarkets have alcohol beverage sections. Alcoholic beverages are taken in shopping carts by people! Earlier, people would take alcoholic beverages surreptiously! So, overall, alcohol beverage market is seeing sizzling growth.

For entrepreneurs and marketers, alcohol beverages is an attractive market. This is because it is large growing market, and because the likes of Godrej, Tatas, Ambanis, Mahindras and Birlas will not immediately enter this segment due to ' moral reasons' or 'value systems'. Hence, professional competition by the people with deep pockets will be lesser in this market. So fast growth in the alcohol biz market is an attractive preposition for many marketers.

Even people who do not consume alcoholic beverages or do consume it very occasionally, are interested in marketing alcoholic beverages because it is a habit based market. There is competition, but a lot of money to make, because people are habituated to it. The logic of such marketers is: IF YOU DO NOT MAKE AND MARKET ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, somebody like Vijay Mallya will do it and laugh all the way to the bank! So as a businessman, why should I miss the boat?! A salesman said to me: Let us say, you are a marketer of antihypertensives, will you consume the product just because you market it?! You will do it, only if you need it or want it! So you need not consume alcohol just because you market it!

People who consume alcoholic beverages, are by and large, habituated to it. So the customer is always there for the alcoholic beverage product. As one alcohol beverage salesman said: it is about getting the prospect or customer to like the first peg! After the second peg, taste does not matter!!

Growth of alcohol beverage market and impact on health

Alcohol is perceived as an exciting good mood drink. When alcohol is taken it initially makes a person uninhibited. This makes it appear that alcohol improves mood, makes the person bolder and if he is anxious or depressed, the person feels he is getting over it. However, nothing can be further than truth. Alcohol is pharmacologically defined as a PRIMARY CONTINUOUS DEPRESSANT. Alcohol gives an initial feeling that the person is not depressed. But later it increases depression.

One cannot help but recollect my conversation with an advocate. He was narrating an incident where a senior pharma marketing person with whom he was sharing drinks, after a few drinks this marketing guy started sobbing in a depressed manner. So alcohol consumption is about precipitating depression and getting further depressed! Alcohol is known to make people reckless and irresponsible too.

So the moot point is that alcohol consumption will in fact, increase mental ill- health and products for mental health management like anxiolytics, antidepressants, sleep inducers, cognitive enhancers, and alcohol deaddiction medications will see major boost due to increased growth in sales of alcohol beverages.

Irresponsible and reckless behaviour will also see increased violence (for eg., domestic violence) and accidents. This will increase consumption of medications for mental health, first aid medications, and wound healers.

Why do people drink alcohol?

Some reasons are: curiosity, to be with the crowd, TO GET OVER THE FEELING OF EXHAUSTION, JOINT PAIN AND MUSCLE PAIN, to relax ie., as an antistress drink, and finally due to PHYSIOLOGICAL ADDICTION (craving).

Health market due to alcohol

Alcohol has its first impact on the stomach. Most alcohol consumers suffer from hyperacidity, acid peptic disease, heartburn, and GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disorder - where acidic gastric contents undergo back flow in to the alkaline environment of esophagus and cause irritation and burning pain). This problem is increased when alcohol consumers smoke or eat spicy "sides" or spicy foods along with booze.

Hence, one can safely conclude that the pharma market for hyperacidity or heartburn will always see a good growth, thanks to the alcohol consumers.

Moderate drinking of alcohol is said to be very beneficial. If you click here you will access studies on the benefits of alcohol - that are so convincing that you will feel like taking a peg immediately!

Frankly speaking, personally I have not met any 'moderate drinker' in my life. Either there are people who drink regularly (good amounts), or there are some who drink rarely due to certain people pressures or do not drink at all. I do not recollect meeting a genuine 'moderate drinker'.

One can safely suspect that many of the so called benefits of alcohol are in fact, marketing gimmicks meant to enhance acceptance and sales of alcohol. The long term effects of alcohol are well documented, they can cause liver disease, cardiovascular dysfunction and cancer too.

The most powerful impact of alcohol is on the liver. This organ, which is the largest internal organ of the body bears the insult of alcohol. The liver recognizes it as a foreign body (or xenobiotic) and works hard to convert it to an easily excretible chemical. In the process the liver gets damaged. The initial manifestations are fatty liver (where fat deposits in the liver), then hepatomegaly (liver enlargement), followed by hepatitis (inflammation of liver), fibrosis (growth of hard connective tissue fibre as a part of healing process) and finally cirrhosis (where the liver becomes hard and completely fibrosed). Cirrhosis is an irreversible condition and is fatal.

In India, the alcoholic drink market is said to be Rs. 8200 crores with per capita annual consumption of 0.5 L (the per capita annual consumption in China is 20 L, and in USA it is 100 L). One estimate puts the growth story of alcoholic drinks market as very positive - it is estimated to reach 3 billion liter mark by 2012 (in 2008 it was 1.95 billion liters). As the billion strong (100 crores) Indian population is youth oriented (60% is less than 30 years), growth of beer market is a very strong - estimated to reach 17.2% CAGR by 2011. Another report mirrors the growing popularity of vodka.

Basically India is seeing a revolution of sorts. Westernization, increased earnings, a youthful population, and media penetration, are all influencing consumption patterns. There is a growth of both of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages drink markets. The increased off-take of alcohol beverages presents an opportunity for marketers; pharma marketers will also see growth of certain markets like anxiolytics, liver protectives, antipeptic and antihyperacidity drugs etc, due to increase in alcoholic beverage consumption.

Thanks for reading this blogpost, please feel free to recommend my blog to your acquaintances.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The smart wave and lead generation

Today there is a new pharma marketing phenomenon: the rise of importance for lead generation. (I got the above image from here).

The word 'smart' is the IN word now! You have smart cards, smart cars, smart mobiles, smart rooms, smart whiteboard, ... many entities are now smart, ie., tech enabled. Whatever the smart tech features we want in business activities, it is ultimately for increased sales revenues - for improved value delivery to customer. In the contemporary world, business is marketing, and marketing is campaigning. Smart tech helps marketing or value delivery and facilitates better campaigns.

Lead generation: the new pharma marketing phenomenon

There was a time, in pharma marketing, when the concept of lead generation was an unheard concept! The MR had a big playground! He would comfortably call on 8 or 10 doctors and the business would follow. Things have changed today - doctors are more demanding or business savvy, competition is fierce, there are more and more brands, pharma marketers, and commoditization of the pharma market is very high. Hence, the concept of lead generation is now becoming more important.

Leads are information bits or enquiries that can lead to concrete business results. For eg., let us say, a MR attends a social function in his neighbourhood. Casually, he bumps in to a new doctor who evinces interest in the MR's product range. Then the MR has a lead, which may lead him to a prospect and hopefully this doctor is converted in to a customer (ie., prescriber).

In today's context, all doctors are not prospects. There are many factors that play a role in converting prospects in to prescriber or dispenser customer doctors. For eg., there are doctors now who prefer franchisee or PCD market operators for routine pharma brands and prefer only those MRs who market specialty brands (products not offered by PCD operators). So the MR needs to collect leads, qualify them to locate prospects, and then convert them to prescribers or purchasing doctors. All leads need not lead to prospects. The scenario was different 10 years back; during that time all doctors were prospects! Today, all doctors need not be prospects. Because, many of these doctors have their commitment to certain companies or PCD operators. Hence, location of leads, qualifying them for locating prospects and then converting them to prescribers or purchasers has become a new marketing and sales phenomenon.


Leads are important for sales personnel. When MRs get strong leads from chemists (pharmacisits) or fellow MRs, or tips during conversation with doctors, or references from doctors, they follow them up. These leads will lead to potential prescribers.

Collecting leads, sorting them, prioritizing them and follow up is an important exercise. Pharma companies now get a lot of leads from trade stall activities, where stalls are put up at doctor conferences. Let us say, the veterinary segment is not tapped by a company's field force. When the company puts up a stall at a veterinary doctors conference, the company personnel will realize that there is good potential in the vet segment, and through interactions with vet doctors of the conference, they will get good leads, who can prescribe a lot of products. These leads need to be collected, sorted out, the respective MRs should be given them, they should assign priority to these leads, follow up and the company can realize more business.

Considering that lead generation is gaining importance in the business of pharma marketing due to various circumstances, it is not far fetched to imagine that in the near future, there may be specialist agencies who will get in to the business of providing leads, doctor lists, conduct surveys, provide qualified leads and thus add value to a pharma company's business operations.

Let us consider this example: A pharma company is operating for the past 20 years with its basket of herbal drugs and nutraceuticals, and enjoys a certain level of sales in South Bangalore. Let us assume, the company as part of its business development proposal, invests in an agency to help generate good qualified leads in the same territory. The agency people will obviously go conduct interviews with various doctors, compile the interview data, analyze and generate a list of doctors with addresses who have evinced interest in this set of herbal drugs and nutraceuticals. So what the marketing agency has done is, provided a list of qualified leads in South Bangalore, the MR of the client company covering South Bangalore can prioritize the leads, follow up and thus generate better business through a new set of customers. So the agency has provided leads that has led to new business and growth.

Constant lead generation is crucial for business growth

Leads need to be constantly generated, trade stall activities help in this regard, chemist surveys will give leads to new potential doctors. However, most MRs (as is human) are satisfied with status quo new leads are not solicited. This stagnates business in the MR's territory or makes it dependent on certain prescribers only. Direct enquiries to pharma companies from doctors through a dedicated sms no., call no., or web site helps generate leads to pharma marketers.

CMEs and sponsoring doctor meets

When pharma companies sponsor doctor meets and pitch their products there, a no. of leads are generated - many doctors who are not met by MRs get exposed to the pharma brands. Thus, CMEs, and doctor meets present an opportunity for product promotion and lead generation (for follow up later).

Smart technology and lead generation

Let us assume, a pharma company launches a sms joke service to interested doctors, or launches regular e-newsletters through e-mail to doctors. On one hand, the company is engaging prospects and customers through the e-newsletters, on the other hand, the engagement will lead to lead generation, where doctors get interested in new products they are not familiar with, after all, the MR cannot promote all products to one doctor! So leads are vital.

Every day is a new day in pharma marketing! There are new product concepts doing the rounds, new marketing approaches creating market eddies ... all this points to the importance of focusing on those customers who will give a good sales yield. This requires good LEADS. We, pharma marketers, are most certainly going to focus on this new pharma marketing phenomenon that is gaining traction. Every doctor need not be our customer. Hence leads to good prescribers are gaining importance.

Hope, this blogpost will lead you to better times! Please scroll down, for leading to other blogposts, when you click on older posts, you will get leads to other blogposts. Please recommend and lead your acquaintances to this blog URL. Thnks.