Sunday, December 25, 2011

Me @ 63rd IPC, Bangalore

The most favoured brand event for pharmacists, in fact, this 'event brand' is a legacy brand with a great emotional bonding for pharmacists, it is the INDIAN PHARMACEUTICAL CONGRESS (IPC). This annual event is a time to RELEARN, RECONNECT AND REINSPIRE. The IPC is held every Dec, this year's edition was at Bangalore (16.12.2011, 17.12.2011 and 18.12.2011). Bangalore is my place of stay since 1990 (when I came for studying M Pharma in Pharmacology at Govt. College of Pharmacy, Bangalore; I have come to Bangalore from Mysore my birthplace, Mysore is located 160 km from Bangalore; however, my family roots (ie., my parents' native place) are in Durga village, Karkala, Udupi district).

Naturally, the excitement level was very high since the IPC was making its presence in Bangalore almost after a decade.

Above: a long range view of the inaugural session

Our encouraging JMD

Thanks to the encouraging JMD of my employer company, our registrations to IPC were ensured and thanks to his support I could engage in useful relearning, reconnecting to my classmates and other acquaintances, and participate in the scientific session through a poster that I put up.
In above photo I pose before my scientific poster

In the above image I receive my certificate for poster presentation from Dr. Asha of Al Ameen College of Pharmacy, Bangalore who was the Chairperson of K series poster presentations (on pharmaceutical management)

The above is my certificate of the paper presentation (ie., scientific poster presentation)

My scientific poster was on THE LONG TAIL STRATEGY IN PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY. Chris Anderson proposed a concept: companies are offering many unique products sold in smaller quantities along with major brands. This, he said, contributes to a boost of marketshare, ROI and profits. In my scientific poster, I have extrapolated this concept to the pharma industry. I observe that companies (particularly MNCs) in the absence of blockbuster brands, are adopting a strategy like the long tail strategy to enhance marketshare or achieving other corporate objectives.

In the above picture I am with my company and industry colleagues. The gentleman with blazer is Mr. S G Biligiri, VP - Technical in my company and
a prominent member of the local pharmaceutical community.

Mr. Biligiri was also an active person of the 63rd IPC's local organizing committee. It was fascinating to go around with Mr. S G Biligiri during the IPC event. With every two steps he took, three individuals would come up to greet him and talk to him! Such is his network!!

During the 63rd IPC, Bangalore I could also reconnect with dynamic Mr. Madhusudhan (third from reader's right, ie., next to me on my right side, the gentleman wearing suit, wedged between me and Mr. Biligiri).

Mr. Madhusudhan is one of the leaders of Karnataka pharma industry. When I was a pharma student in the late eighties and early nineties, Mr. Madhusudhan was very active in the pharma circles of Karnataka as a leader of the corporate world. I had represented Karnataka in the national pharma elocution contest, three times - during my final B Pharma, first M Pharma and second M Pharma, and during all these years, the person who used to motivate us students - and take special care of us was Shri Madhusudhan. Golden memories!! When I met him, after all these years, Shri Madhusudhan remembered me!!

I listened to his illuminating lecture, during the IPC, on 'data integrity and other manufacturing concepts as practiced in USA and India', (on 18.12.2011 at Cassia hall). Mr. Madhusudhan is currently based in USA.

During the inaugural session, the Chairperson of 63rd IPC, Bangalore, Mr. Subodh Priolkar, General Manager of Colorcon gave an outstanding talk on the growth prospects of the Indian Pharma Industry.

Later on, during the day, a talk by Ms. Aditi Kare Panandikar, Wholetime Director of Indoco Remedies, Mumbai, was riveting. Her professional commitment and scientific training was stark clear, this young professional was at her inspiring best. Her incisive analysis backed by hard data gave a precise view of the developing trends in Indian pharma, and the opportunity for new business models. Truly, she has a 360 degree view of the developing pharma business, and has kept herself abreast with the latest happenings of the pharma world.

By George, Dr. George Patani, Director, Inga Laboratories, Mumbai was at his oratorical best. The attention getter example in his presentation, of the legal definition of land was very striking. He went on to present his concerns and views in a persuasive way - such as the challenge on the pricing front faced by Indian pharma industry.

Both speakers highlighted that since outsourcing of pharmaceutical work was at every stage of the value chain (ie., CRAMS (contract research and manufacturing services)), Indian pharmaceutical industry was at the cusp of another exciting growth phase. This they have reiterated will demand well trained professionals...

Mr. Ganesh Nayak, the pharma leader from Zydus Cadila group, was at his authoritative best talking on strategies and business models available for pharma enterprises in today's context. Mr. Nayak presented his talk on 18.12.2011, however, I could not listen completely to the talk, since I had to be there along with my scientific poster too.

Dr. R B Smarta, a consultant spoke on an interesting concept of pharmacoeconomics. His talk was well illustrated with graphic elements. This emerging concept deals with pricing vis-a-vis therapeutic benefits offered, and consequently looking at the cost of therapy from a holistic angle.

Mr. K Kiranshankar, a veteran marketer of the pharma industry, spoke on the current status of the pharma market from the 4 Ps point of view: product, price, promotion and placement. It was a ringside view of a practicing marketing artiste!

A pleasant surprise was the speech by Dr. G Parthasarathi, Head - Pharmacy practice, my B Pharma alma mater. He has grown rich in stature today, a leader and academic expert. He has also edited a text book on pharmacy practice, which I plan to buy shortly! His talk was well received and made high impact in the audience.

Dr. B R Jagashetty, Drug Controller of Karnataka, also lent his majestic presence to the show.

Dr. Saranjit Singh, Dean, NIPER, Mohali gave a thrilling lecture on the level of impurities and their impact on exports. He gave exciting case studies on how a small change in level of impurities in a pharmaceutical formulation can become a barrier to selling in regulated markets!

All in all, the IPC was inspiring, all about learning sessions, and reconnecting. I would have liked to listen to all the lectures, but it wasn't possible to be everywhere at the same time! Moreover, visiting the Pharma Expo requires a lot of time! So time is/was a constraint.

The food and other arrangements were 'overall good'. IPC @ Bangalore was a memorable one!!
Good old memories!!

Above I am seen with Dr. K M Bhat Phd of QA dept., College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Manipal. Bhat was my B Pharma classmate and later on during my Bangalore years, he was my roommate . He went on to do PhD from Gujarat, and is now a well placed Associate Prof. at the above college, which is a few kms from his hometown! While I was submitting my scientific poster, he was an evaluator for another series of scientific posters at the 63rd IPC, Bangalore! It was nice connecting with him at IPC, after 18 years, although we have been in touch through e-mail and phone. We are seen (above) next to a table of vegetable carvings in the
dining hall during IPC.

Self with company colleagues at IPC, Bangalore (in above two photos)

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Success through sensory experiences


Pharmaceutical products, traditionally have not been associated with a positive sensory experience. If at all, the top-of-the-mind recall word for a medicine, is bitter! In fact, in earlier times it was also considered an appropriate attribute of a true pharmaceutical product - a pharma product was expected to taste unpleasant! A good medicine was supposed to taste bitter or offer a rather unpleasant experience. Homoeopathic products were the only exceptions - since they used sugar pills to deliver the medicament.

With competition coming of age and patient preference becoming more towards a pleasant experience while taking medicaments, the time has certainly come in the Indian pharma market to see if the sensorial qualities of a formulation can be tweaked to offer a competitive edge. A pharma product with a better taste, aroma, mouth-feel and after-taste will certainly have improved patient compliance, with low desertion index.

The other drug attribute, affecting patient acceptance - is the side-effect profile. When a drug offers unpleasant sensory experience and has many side-effects, it will certainly have a patient unfriendly image. To make a medicine formulation, patient-friendly, it ought to have a positive sensory appeal and a low side-effect profile.

In the case of food industry, as pointed by this reference, it is already well established that taste and sensory pleasure aspect of a food is important while devising nutrition intervention strategy.
Presentation of medicaments with a positive sensory attribute will certainly enhance chances of successful establishment of the formulation in the market. The look, feel, taste, aroma, after-taste and mouth-feel: all these have an overall impact on patient well being.

The chemical basis of positive sensory experience on consumption of a substance is an interesting study. For eg., this write-up (click) explores the endorphin effect of chocolate! It is evident that chocolate has 600 natural flavouring substances and pharmacologically active substances. Chocolate flavour has an unique ability to provide "feel-good" factor to a patient if used along with the medicaments.

The development of pharmaceuticals with improved sensory qualities, ie., reduced YUCK FACTOR - has been debated for long. With generic competition becoming stiffer and new product lines becoming dicier, it is imperative that existing products are strengthened to improve their sales performance. One of the ways of doing this is continuously improve the pharmaceutical formulation characteristics such as sensory attributes, disintegration profile and dissolution nature.

One cannot forget the days when we were young, and bitter tablets were powdered and administered in a tablespoon of honey for improved patient acceptance!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Koln fragrance

Thanks to my employers and JMD, my maiden foreign tour was most memorable. In the first photo we see a panoramic view of the crowds at Anuga 2011, in photo two, I pose at Wuperthal, Germany; in the third photo my colleague and I pose at Zurich (Switzerland).

The globalization juggernaut rolls on unstopped. It is difficult to remain isolated from the wave of globalization thanks to the ever "shrinking" world. 'Englishization' is spurring the breakdown of communication barriers. People are the same everywhere - the common interests are to have fun, be at peace, and engage in productive and progressive work. Socio-econo-emotional forces are driving global transactions.

We attended ANUGA 2011 a fair for food and beverages at Kolnmesse (Germany). Oh! What an exhilarating experience. Thousands of serious delegates with suits crowding the massive exhibition halls, talking at the various booths with the company officials in the hope of latching on to something good for business: it could be an idea, a sweet deal or some inspiration to launch new businesses, the fervor of business was a memorable experience to be savored.

The South Koreans are real aggressive 'tiger' marketers. Vita500 a Vit. C (500 mg per bottle) beverage promoted to doctors and end consumers - is the no. 1 drink of South Korea, they were there proudly displaying their achievements, and looking to globalize too. Another South Korean marketer promoted his sea-salt which he claimed was better to taste and had more magnesium! The other South Korean marketers were also very aggressive in their attempt to promote traditional herbs and foods on a global scale.

The Chinese too were prominent in their activities - they were warm, although not as communicative as the South Koreans. The European companies were at their conservative and sophisticated best. The Australians and American stalls were going all out charming booth attendees and at their professional best. The olive oil marketers including Sicilians , Greeks, Italians and Moroccans, were doing their best. The Indian stalls were charming, accommodating, not as aggressive or having significant presence - say as the South Koreans and Chinese.

The interesting point was that most marketers having stalls at ANUGA, were all eager to do business in India. The large population and the hype on India is getting on to them, they just want to enter India! However, Indian market is a tough nut to crack! The play of price and product benefits is challenging because Indian marketers are competitive, the Indian customer is quite discerning and requires value-for-money. Indians can be quite conservative too.

Germans are very organized and systematic. On the roads in Germany, compared to India, there are hardly any people. Germans are all inside the buildings and in cars. It is cute to observe that pedestrians in Germany and Switzerland, get a lot of priority from automobile drivers while crossing etc, on roads, they even stop their cars, so that pedestrians cross the roads! Further, in Europe compared to India, there is high level of consumption of liquor (beer, vodka, whiskey and wine) and smoking too (particularly young women!). The amazing thing is free education or nominal fees up to degree education, for citizens of Switzerland and perhaps Germany too.

I will never forget the moment when a waitress in Switzerland said: "The tap water here is better than Italian mineral water!" In Germany and Switzerland (perhaps in other European countries too), tap water is potable!

Indians are quite liked out there! We could bond easily with co-passengers, other delegates, business associates, and people who work in restaurants etc. People are also curious about India.

Truly, a refreshing and memorable visit to the European continent! Thanks for reading this blogpost, kindly read all other post, scroll down if required, and click on older posts as and when required.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

PERMA approach for happiness


The purpose of business is to make profits... NO! THE NEW TRUTH?!: The purpose of BUSINESS IS MAKING PEOPLE HAPPY! Profits will follow, like a faithful dog!! Sounds a little odd, however, with the present trend of most markets becoming buyer or prescriber markets, business has verily become a happiness management system.

Making people happy

To make customers (external & internal) happy is not an easily defined process. Happiness is a relative state of mind. The concepts of happiness change from time to time in the same person, and happiness means differently to each individual. For the same person, what delivered happiness now may not do so after a few days, because his threshold of happiness has got elevated! Hence, happiness is called a fuzzy concept (ie., unfixed).

Sources of happiness

There are endless sources of happiness - from the intangible to tangible. Most of times we associate only tangible items as sources of happiness, such as money or material gifts - no doubt, these are are very vital sources of happiness to MRs, field personnel, office employees, doctors, stockists and retailers. However, there are also other intangible sources of happiness too.

The pleasant, attractive and fragrant presence of a MR in a dull and tense clinic or hospital environment, is a source of happiness to the staff and doctors alike. When this same MR, has good conversational skills and a knack to appreciate, the MR becomes a highly acclaimed resource of happiness for the doctor. To appreciate a person, is not easy, it requires a good deal of homework about the prospect or customer, and appreciating accurately.

Many a times, a doctor is looking for a confidante to share his thoughts and experiences, the trustworthy MR often fills this void in a doctor's life.

Theories and practices to generate happiness

Business experts and scientists have done deep studies on the science of happiness. Serotonin a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) is the well established 'chemical of happiness'. One of the ways to ensure serotonin boosts, is by engaging the Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - this not only boosts happiness, we see a happiness economy in action! Business practitioners suggest using happiness as a framework for organizational activities. Need for happiness is at the root of a consumer's purchase behaviour. Hence, business @ happiness is a pertinent concept!!

PERMA approach

Martin Seligman - is a psychologist and American author who has worked for decades in the field of happiness or positive psychology, as he calls it. He has several insights for obtaining happiness. For instance, magenta is his favourite colour for its amazing effect to calm humans.

This scientist offers the PERMA acronym for happiness:

P for pleasure (eg., tasty food, warm baths, conveniences etc)
E for engagement (being absorbed in a challenging yet absorbing activity)
R for relationships (social ties that are fulfilling)
M for meaning (being engaged in a very meaningful set of experiences, being a part of something bigger)
A for accomplished (having a set of tangible accomplishments)

The PERMA based technique for employee and doctor engagement is a useful approach rather than concentrating only on material inputs for engaging doctors.

When a field manager, during joint field work, provides timely and good beverages and food at good joints, to the MR, the work becomes a pleasure. This is a simple and affordable input but it goes a long way to establish foundations for good organizational operational working.

Many doctors are driven and highly energetic. This is because they find their vocation highly absorbing and provides them with a feeling of accomplishment. Taking a leaf from this analogy, when an organization, offers a melange of absorbing activities to MRs and field personnel, with a potential for generating accomplishments, the employees become more engaged.

Accomplishments need to be celebrated at proper platforms in form of organizational events. A promotion, achieving a sales target, making a record turnover, obtaining certifications ... celebrating such events, will empower and engage employees, and provide with higher involvement and confidence. An employee is eternally looking for PERMA based experiences, a doctor or customer also has PERMA based needs that will provide him with happiness. Hence, PERMA is an interesting approach for strategising.

Training modules with interactive activites that are PERMA based will create fabulous training outcomes. Not only will employees be engaged in activities, they will have take-home messages and experiences that will improve productivity.

All in all, today, pharma business is not a simple production and marketing activity, it is becoming a well thought out process of generating happiness to internal and external customers. Pharma business is about offering pleasures to prescribers (egs.: appreciation, samples, small gifts and sponsorships), it is about engaging them in thoughtful and relevant in-clinic activities, it is also about having sound ethical relationships, it is also about partnering with doctors in creating meaningful experiences (and reiterating products); and finally, pharma marketing is about being a partner in each doctor's accomplishments. A contemporary pharma company has a PERMA approach to happiness management of doctors and retailers; as well as internal customers.

A permanent solution for high employee turnover in the Indian pharma industry is the 'perma approach' which is holistic and not a one-way street.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Social skills and Pfizer


Social skill has become an important attribute in business workplaces. Social skills refers to the way we INTERACT and COMMUNICATE (ie., send messages) with others. There are many ways we communicate - warm, affectionate, cold, neutral, factually, negatively, positively, creatively, emotionally, intuitively ... The way we communicate and interact makes a great difference to transactional and/or business results.

A MR may be very effective with detailing, however he or she may be slightly inhibited in nature, this makes him or her come across as non-assertive, reserved and cold. Such a social nature becomes an obstacle to establishment of good relationships with doctors or chemists (pharmacists).

Hence, social skills are vital for providing favourable business outcomes.

It is not enough to have functional knowledge, there is something more than technical competency required for success, it is a skill of knowing how to move with people in a balanced way, and thereby help attain business objectives. In a globalized world, and media rich society, it is not enough to have domain skills - social skills are equally vital, both within the organization and outside.

In the complex world of transactions, relationship management has acquired higher importance. The ability to manage one's network of relationships is crucial to help attain one's business objectives. Social skills help one realize value through social interactions.

For eg., let us say, we are talking to a field manager on phone. While it is common to go straight to the point which we want to resolve, it is good social skill to generally exchange views on the weather or general business conditions, and strengthen the social aspect of the conversation. It is new cultural thing to do this because the norm is to stick to business talk and resolve issues, however, a social skill component is to exchange pleasantaries and talk on other aspects too.

Social skills are not easy!

One may wonder why this is said so?

The first and most important obstacle to good social skill is lack of interest in practicing good social skills. The point is why exert more? Rather, it is better to stick to the business agenda and be done with it!!

There are occasions where many organizational members are tolerated as necessary evils, this happens mainly due to the concerned people having low social skill.

A stumbling block to practice of effective social skill is ego - a heightened sense of self-importance. This creates hostility in relationships, conflict management becomes the central issue rather than working together for mutual business interests.

Historically, technical skills are given more value than social skills. In many organizational cultures, social skills are also discounted and not adequately considered as an important skill set.

In skill inventories and skill audits conducted by HR personnel, technical skills, sales skills, etc are given high importance, there is no mention of social skills and specific social skill sub-types for HR audit.

Social skills are an important glue that hold organizations together and breathe life into transactions. Such social skills create a difference to the way of business conduct. A simple smile along course of technical presentations, an open attitude in body language during a serious business meeting - these can create a 'feel-good' mood, and this establishes a positive culture.

Social skills are really not easy, it takes training and practice, and an emphatic personal will to ensure that one practices optimal level of social skill.

An organization's culture is made of many components. The Organizational Culture (OC) is a psychological framework of the company. It is a set of characteristics or traits that sets an organization apart. For eg., when Ranbaxy was growing fast under Dr. Parvinder Singh, it was a power oriented organization, and a company that did not smile! A serious culture pervaded the entire organization. The OC is vital for the fortunes of a firm.

Pfizer: a case study from the OC perspective

The recent 'palace coup' article of Pfizer in Fortune Aug 2011, detailing how Jeff Kindler was sent home, makes absorbing reading. The article describes in a riveting style - with a very alluring narrative - the background and chain of events leading to departure of Jeff Kindler from Pfizer.

However what comes out of the story - hitting the reader hard is the ABSOLUTE DISCONNECT BETWEEN PEOPLE IN THE ORGANIZATION AND EVENTS at Pfizer.

It is hard to believe that the Directors' at Pfizer gave such a long rope to Jeff Kindler. Is it a Wild West type of a company with CEOs having a cowboy attitude?!

Probably, Jeff was brought in with a mandate to shake things up, break 'I-scratch-your-back- and you-scratch-my-back' type of relationships, infuse new dynamism - or else why would you hire an aggressive questioning type of trial lawyer as a CEO - that too of a pharmaceutical major?!

rankly it appears too far-fetched that Jeff's leadership style would go unquestioned for so long!! It appears, after reading the article, 'Jeff and his leadership style' is the fall guy for clearing the decks and providing Pfizer a clean slate for a new hopeful beginning. It is a clean-up job by the Directors. Hope it will augur well for the world's biggest pharmaceutical company!

In a way, the article is 'tragi-comic'.

It is truly hilarious to read about Mary Mcleod and her helicopter rides in the article!!

The events described in the article do not speak highly of the management style and organizational culture of Pfizer.

No one will expect events as described in the article, in a company like Pfizer. (Heh!! I am being cheeky here - no offense meant - Indian pharmaceutical companies are always much much better!!).

The carry-home messages that come after reading the article, to an outsider:

Carry home message 1: Pfizer, as an organization - its organizational personality has poor social skills. There is vast scope to develop a positive social skill character in the length and breadth of the organization. The way people interact and communicate with each other is surely very very poor out there in Pfizer! May be it is because of Jeff ... but anyway it appears to be a part of Pfizer's DNA. Where is the warmth and stimulation to achieve there?!

Carry home message 2: Pfizer seems to have overlooked implementing Dr. Edward Kaplan and David Norton's BALANCED SCORE CARD system, one of the best management tools to keep a tab on performance and cultural issues. The lack of such a system leads to disconnect and episodes such as the Kindler episode of Pfizer.

There are viewpoints that the pharmaceutical industry, by and large, is a very conservative one and does not have an open mind to management concepts or adoption of management ideas.

Sadly, even Pfizer does not seem to be an exception.

The Article in FORTUNE will finds its way to all the case study classes of various management institutes!

End quote: The steps of power are often steps on sand - Edward Counsel

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Business process mapping

Managers are professionals, like lawyers, doctors and teachers. The area of professional competence is management. Managers are committed to 'management' to produce results in line with the firm's goals. A firm has a mission, the raison d'etre of the firm. The mission statement outlines the firm's important commitment, for example it may be providing excellent processed food products or quality and affordable medicines .... Based on the mission, objectives are drawn, goals are set, strategies are plotted; policies, programs and procedures are laid down. In essence, a process is created. Managers are professional process creators and process managers.

Process refers to a sequence of events, interlinked procedures to produce an output. Managers are in essence process managers. Let us assume that there is a manager for each part of the process. If the manager understands he is a part of the larger process that is generating an output, then his work will be in harmony and in balance with the firm's needs.

The MR visits doctors, promotes products, creates demand, with the help of marketing inputs - strategies - training inputs - collaterals. This demand is served through the distribution system. Products come in to the distribution system, through the production system. The inputs for the production system come from the purchase dept. All in all, a process is on, with the MR being a part of the larger system called the firm, which is full of processes in action.


HABIT: you remove H you get ABIT; you remove A you get BIT; if B is gone, you get IT. Hence, it is difficult to get rid of HABITs!

Processes create habits, and these in turn create comfort zones. Hence, revisiting processes gets a tad difficult. One is comfortable doing things the way they are, since they appear to produce outputs in line with corporate goals.

Process revisits

Process revisits are crucial to seek improvements in the processes. Improved processes will certainly produce improved outcomes. The processes revisited can belong to any department. It may be material procurement processes, HR processes, production processes, audit processes, quality processes, marketing processes, training processes ....

Revisiting processes involve understanding how things are being done, and then looking for ways to improve the way they are done, with an eye to

a) reduce wastage
b) improve efficiency
c) increase effectiveness
d) get better output

Thus, if the MR is a value delivery process of a pharma firm, we observe, MRs deliver communication inputs, render messaging, build relationships, involve in two-way transactions, offer gifts, sponsorships, and help create the demand output.

Another way of looking at things is to create a support system to improve value delivery to customers. Such an approach is value delivery through a mailer system. Or through other platforms which will engage target audiences and create the demand output for the firm. After all, the MR process is for demand creation. Hence, any other process that will create or support current process for demand output, with less wastage (or leaks), increased efficiency and effectiveness will surely be attractive to a pharma firm.

Steven Covey has said:

If we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to keep getting what we're getting.”

This is quite logical, hence, revisiting processes makes sense. For instance, today, pharmacist focus is on in the marketing process. Pfizer and GSK are organizing education meets on products for pharmacists, to get goodwill, shelf space and OTC (over-the-counter) push sales.

The idea to look at business activities with a process attitude - this is what ISO 9001 is all about. Business process mapping is what is the need of the hour for the pharma Indian industry today. Businesses are essentially processes, producing defined outputs; repeatedly.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Donkey driver managers v/s professional managers

Top management and owners of companies appoint managers to ease their work, ensure that their vision and mission is implemented for the organization, and that the firm reaches the envisioned place. In simple language, 'manager appointees' are people who make things happen and ensure that the work is done (particularly through the non-managers) to achieve pre-stated objectives.

The popular managerial approach ('donkey driver' approach), is use of reward power and coercive power (see image above) to ensure accomplishment of tasks. Managers are supposed to be the drivers of reward power and coercive power in an organization.

Will a manager become successful for the organization through the 'donkey driver model' of managerial working?

The donkey driver model, utilizing reward power and coercive power, is successful up to a point. It has its limitations. A professional manager has three additional keys for success:

a) Demonstration and co-shouldering of responsibility
b) Give confidence and security
c) Use positive and negative reinforcements tactfully (and discreetly if required)

a) Modeling or demonstration of technical or other work skills is critical to win the subordinates' confidence and trust. Providing feed backs and co-shouldering of the responsibility is the best way of getting things done to achieve targets.

It is easy to say, "Look I have provided the resources, now achieve the targets!" "If you achieve the targets you get your incentive, if you do not achieve, well then, you can look for some other job more suited for you!"

This sort of carte blanche approach, is easiest for the manager, however, if the managerial system is co-shouldering, based on providing solutions, target achievement happens as a matter of rote, what happens however is something bigger: EVOLUTION OF THE ORGANIZATION.

Growing together, making organizations evolve, and making firms stronger in the marketplace is what is the essence of managerial success.

Let us assume a manager is successful in target achievement, merely by driving his subordinates to work harder and harder, however, the 'donkey driver model' has its limitations. Such a manager will finally face human resource problems, and a plateau will emerge ... from where evolution seems impossible.

The 'donkey driver' managerial model of working assumes, non-managers need to be driven and results automatically happen, it does not take in to cognisance the following facts:

a) that teams can be broken
b) non-managers can leave companies
c) results are system outputs
d) reinforces 'marketing and results myopia'

More often than not, organizational results are not a result merely of 'donkey driver model'. Reward and coercive power are vital in an organization, however, expertise power, legitimate power, connection power, and referral power of an organization are critical elements of organizational success, growth, survival, safety and evolution. These powers need to be enhanced in concert at all levels, thereby these factors would interplay and will provide the necessary organizational outputs.

b) Giving confidence and security, based on values and discipline, makes subordinates fearless in attitude, this provides stability, loyalty and higher involvement in work. Finally this attitude translates in to tangible results and employee stability to an organization.

Organizations that have a "wicket keeping attitude" (where most of the managerial work is about fixing the responsibility for lapses or dis-satisfactory results and/or 'fault finding'), keeping people in a state of fear of being "wicket kept", will surely see the organization becoming weaker by the day! After all, organizational success is based on doing work (which involves risks, lapses, and mistakes), if organizational intolerance to failure is a cachet, then organizational outcomes will never see improved fortunes! Growing organizations have a hearty appetite for knowledge, and risks!!

c) Use of positive and negative reinforcements: Life is a complement of negative and positive experiences. Fire can give warmth or it can cause burns. Utilizing perceived positive and negative reinforcements intelligently to motivate and make people work enthusiastically in the line of business goals is an important aspect of managerial work. This is not akin to the 'donkey driver model'. It involves use of intangible positive and negative reinforcers (not just tangible rewards and punishments), it is also about being tactful and discreet about these reinforcers so that desirable work behaviours are elicited.

Managership is a great responsibility, its influence on destinies is great, destinies are made or destroyed through exercise of managership. The above three keys of managership (which include elements of the 'donkey driver model') are useful for responsible and fulfilling managership experiences.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011


Above interesting graphic from here.

Knowledge is the most important resource of a firm. The insights, experiences and information - are all resources that help add value, make business processes efficient and enhance outcomes. Let us say, a MR joins a firm, does excellent work, his field work in terms of samples provided, no. of doctors and chemists met, is regularly received from him in form of reports, and is being monitored. However, one fine day, to meet his other ambitions, if the MR leaves the job, out goes with him all that territory knowledge, insights and experiences!!

Imagine, another scenario, where the knowledge bank of the MR, is stored in the IT infrastructure of the firm, ie., the database of the firm. If this data is used to provide tips either through e-mail or sms to the newly recruited MR, the territory will become productive faster.

Eg 1. of a sms to this new MR can be: "17.7.2011 is the birthdate of Dr. Sharma OBG specialist, meet him with a bouquet and detail the target products".

Eg 2. of another sms to this new MR: "Monday is an excellent day for field work in Kanakapura ex station, meet Dr. G Gowda Paediatrician and promote Product X".

The above 'marketing result improvement system' is possible only with a robust Knowledge Management System (KMS) of a firm. Knowledge needs to be:
  • Captured
  • Assimilated
  • Organized
  • Mined
  • Delivered
to the recipients, and potential beneficiaries in a proactive manner.

One can also visualize KMS as an extension of the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) modules of an organization.

Knowledge increases organizational confidence

Imagine a remotely located, highly productive field manager and his team. This closely knit team is no doubt a great asset of the organization. However, let us assume, the manager and his team leave the organization to start their organization or set up their firm. Such an event is legitimate and perfectly alright.

However, the mother organization is a loser, since the parent firm loses not only good human resources - their contacts, knowledge, insights and working patterns are all lost. One has to reinvent the wheel with a new team! This sort of a situation creates organizational weakness and erosion of organizational confidence.

Good KMS ensures seamless working

People may come and go, yet the show has to go on! Such a scenario is possible only when various systems including KMS is very strong, and so are database marketing approaches. KMS and database marketing help insulate organizations from uncertainties and ensure seamless working.

The CKOs manage and maximize the intangible assets of their organizations, they are acknowledged masters of understanding the importance of knowledge to potential beneficiaries, and ensure that this useful knowledge is provided to the potential beneficiaries. CKOs create the cutting edge for a firm, in a competitive world. CKOs not only manage field knowledge, they manage the firm's total knowledge.

As the below wordings from Wikipedia say:
  • Collecting relevant data that is useful for the organization as knowledge
  • Developing an overall framework that guides knowledge management
  • Actively promoting the knowledge agenda within and beyond the company
  • Overseeing the development of the knowledge infrastructure
  • Facilitating connections, coordination and communications.
The CKO is thus a crucial change agent of the organization, mirroring knowledge and its results to potential users, and ensuring right knowledge is available in a timely manner to the potential beneficiaries. This overall, ensures improved organizational outcomes and organizational safety.

Improving adaptability

Adaptability refers to the ability of individuals or firms to modify behaviour to suit the changed circumstance. Adaptability implies ability to learn new things (gain knowledge or learn new skills - behaviours). Adaptability of organizations makes them gain knowledge, keep an open mind, ensure constant improvement, and this contributes to the firm's success, survival and growth.

Adaptability is a offshoot of KMS. CKOs, in reality, ensure more adaptable organizations. CKOs have a tricky role. They are internal marketers of knowledge inputs.

A departmental head may be perfectly happy with the way things are going on in his area of responsibility, hence he may or may not be open to new suggestions or new knowledge. After all, new ways and new knowledge always come with an element of risk. CKOs are the ones who through their networking and communication skills impart the message of confidence, and help in absorption of knowledge to enhance departmental and finally organizational outcomes.

Knowledge provides ideas and creates visions for individuals, departments, groups and finally the firm itself. KMS make a major difference.

KMS creates adaptability and KMS is responsible to drive change - rather than succumbing to the change coming from outside. KMS represents an attitude of INTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL of an organization, rather than having an EXTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL, where the outer forces are responsible for change and knowledge.

Good KMS = Great leadership

KMS (either officially or unofficially) is responsible for market leadership. Toyota is well known to make great cars, their way of doing work is a subject of many great case studies. However, at the root of Toyota's success, lies an avaricious organizational appetite for knowledge! Knowledge comes through an intense zeal to measure. In turn, knowledge influences practices of organizations, creates adaptability and rewards the firm with market leadership. KMS is intangible. But it creates tangible outputs.

KMS, learning, training ... these are inter-related activities. These intangibles are powerful in influencing tangible results.

KMS: today's necessity

There was a seller led economy. You had to have a production unit for the service or product, it would sell, because of the innate demand for services or products. However, the situation in most markets is now more mature. A seller mentality will not function, marketing is required, and at another level, KMS is vital. No wonder it is emphasised that these are the days of KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY.

The development of new media: to carry messages, information, insights, ideas and knowledge seamlessly, at real time and instantly has created a new and renewed emphasis on KMS of organizations.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Macro environment

The above macro environment analytical chart sourced from Pricewaterhouse (HERE)

Marketers ultimately have to ensure consumption of goods and services in the environment - outside of the company. The environment has a major influence on the marketing outcomes.

Marketing of pharma goods is affected by factors in the
a) macro environment
b) micro environment
c) internal environment

The marketing environment graphic from here.

The macro environment refers to the external factors that are outside the control of the firm. These factors are often analysed under the acronym: PEST

P for political
E for economic
S for social and cultural
T for technological

The PEST happenings shape the marketing approach and results significantly.

The winds of change (ie., enhanced media focus and calls for transparency) are blowing strongly on the healthcare sector. For eg., on page 2 of Deccan Herald (3.7.2011) an entire page is devoted to the pharma retail scene, with examples on how banned drugs are being sold and the need for better antibiotic policy. The DoP has also come out with a marketing code for pharmaceuticals in India. DoP (Department of Pharmaceuticals) has invited comments on the new code, and are seeking to make it a law if voluntary compliance from Indian pharma sector is not satisfactory. These political initiatives are certainly important - these have the potential to alter marketing outcomes emphatically.

P in PEST refers to the political (including legal) factors that affect marketing policy, strategy and results of a pharma firm. Today the 2 G spectrum issue shows graphically the impact that political and legal forces can have on enterprise fortunes.

E in PEST is the economic dimension of the macro environment.

The rising purchasing power of Indians has significant implications, since healthcare spend comes just after household routine provisions and clothes. Most of the medicine cost is borne from personal resources. The trend of Govt. pharmacies or other institutions, which provide free medicines or low cost medicines is another economic macro environmental factor. NPPA (National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority) is a political, legal and economic factor, decisions of this body influences pharma enterprise fortunes.

S in PEST are the social and cultural forces of change

In China, the market penetration of modern medicines is lower than that of traditional Chinese medicinal products. In India, although allopathic medicines have good market penetration, the potential is higher, and traditional Indian medicines have a lesser market value.

Many other social or cultural factors influence market habits for consumption of healthcare products. For eg., Deccan Herald (page 2, dated 3.7.2011) has highlighted the growing mistrust between doctors and patients. There are many people who prefer to seek guidance of an outstation familiar doctor rather than the neighbourhood doctor, and patients look at medical advice for diagnostic tests or emphasis on particular brands prescribed by doctors, with a sense of suspicion. Social and cultural attitudes affect healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing outcomes.

Technological (the T of PEST)trends cause seismic shifts in market trends. Today, biogeneric market is the new frontier in medicine marketing. In 3 years to come, a significant value can be expected to come from biogeneric product range. It is a new biogeneric vocabulary that is gaining ascendancy in pharma, and getting traction. EGA (European Generic Medicines Association) offers a handbook on biogenerics for informational purposes. This organization is also working as a lobbying and change agent so that European pharma companies have generic products in their basket, rather than concentrating only on 'innovator medicines'. In India, the biogeneric queen company is Biocon - it is a billion dollar (Rs. 4000 crores plus sales value) annual sales turnover firm. The business model of Biocon reflects the importance of technology and its impact on financial results of a firm.

The micro environment refers to the outer factors that are more controllable (than the factors in macro environment) for a pharma firm. For eg., distributor behaviour, local regulatory agencies, customers, intermediaries etc.

The components of the internal environment of a company are: men, machines, capital etc. These aspects are well in control of the management.

Marketers also use other acronyms to understand the macro environment:

PESTEL: is the acronym of Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal aspects of the macro environment that affect a pharma company's fortunes.

STEEPLE: expands to Social, Technological, Economic, Ethics, Political, Legal and Environmental aspects of macro environment. This framework is more important for charities and could also be considered for pharmaceutical companies since these enterprises are supposed to operate in an ethical environment, with a philosophy of ethical sales.

EPISTLE stands for Economic, Political, Information, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors of the macro environment. The dimension of Information is given an exclusive focus. Information of/from the macro environment is said to be of high value for enterprises using EPISTLE framework for scanning the environment. The EPISTLE framework is useful for share brokerage firms.

STEEL PIE is the last and not so popular framework of macro environment analysis, it stands for Social, Technological, Environmental, Ethics, Legal, Political, Information and Economic factors. STEEL PIE covers all the points of macro environmental analysis.

ONE CAN CONSIDER MEDIA as a special macro environmental factor, given the fact that it is all pervasive and highly influential.

In the early 1990s and even earlier, macro environmental analysis was of little value to pharma firms. You needed to get a license for a brand or molecule, have the copycat (reverse engineering technology) procedure to manufacture, and then market it by employing MRs. Today, the situation is different, marketability of a pharma product or products of a healthcare enterprise, needs to have macro environmental analysis to be done continuously, to see how the political, legal, social, cultural, technological, environmental, ethical, economical, informational and other factors play and impinge on the firm's functioning.

In fact, the bigger the enterprise, the more it is impacted by macro environmental factors.

API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) manufacture was a hot trend up to late 1990s, however, availability of Chinese material proved to be a game changer. Today biogenerics is becoming hot ... similarly, media, legal and political aspects are increasingly influential. It is the era of macro environmental factors in pharma marketing today!

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Only Reliability

NOSTALGIA IS ALL ABOUT RELIABILITY! Above image from this site!

When we were in school, Reliance was starting to make its mark, Only Vimal was its imagination capturing slogan!

What was Reliance all about? Was it quality? Good marketing? Image building? Reliance was, as its name indicates, all about RELIABILITY (or trust).

Customers were confident of its high quality fabric - Vimal, customers were also offered good service at exclusive showrooms with its wide range of fabrics, shareholders were happy with its ever growing share value, dividends and bonus shares; traders enjoyed doing business with Reliance; bureaucrats and politicians were pleased with the relationship management practices of Reliance (they have dedicated personnel to manage relations with key bureaucrats and politicians) ... Hence, all associates found Reliance to be reliable.

Clearly, the key of success was RELIABILITY, for Reliance.

Many summers back, when I had just started my career and field work, I happened to meet up with a senior MR from Wockhardt during field work. While conversing we were discussing the reasons why doctors patronized brands. His tip for field success was simple: BE RELIABLE!

Yes it was trustworthiness or reliability along with other inputs that provided the key link to success - there is no compromise with reliability!

The senior MR elaborated: when you are regular with doctor calls, the doctor gets a feeling that the company, brands and the MR are reliable. When you gain confidence of the doctor, when the doctor feels the pharma company or MR is reliable - it makes success happen!!

Everyone is ready to provide sponsorships to doctors for various clinical reasons, however, the one who is most reliable is the one who gets the maximum mind share and prescription share or even the chance to sponsor a thing or two for the doctor.

I recollect one more incident: this was when I served as a first-line manager for South Karnataka: A doctor whom we met in an interior of South Kanara district, was peeved. He was hurt by the fact that a senior MR of another big company had not provided a rechargeable lamp along with the goods purchased, as promised by the senior MR.

The doctor was upset that a senior MR whom he thought to be reliable had "dumped" goods on him, on a false promise of a gift. The doctor was hurt with the apparent breach of trust.

Reliability was the key question here, it was not just about the gift!!

This goes to show how reliability makes a great difference, in customer management and brand success.

One of the important secrets of success of most senior MRs during my field working time, was their reliability. The senior MRs were trusted for their quality of communication and their regular field activity. It was this image of reliability that created success for most pharma companies.

During my independent field work in Bangalore in the 1990s, one of the elderly lady Govt. doctor's in Kadugodi (then an ex-station of Bangalore!), requested for some extra samples of Metacin, Cinaryl etc for personal use. I took her home address (located some where in R T Nagar, mind you I was new to Bangalore field work, searched for her house, and left the samples at her residence, the same evening!).

The next month, I was surprised to find a good amount of prescriptions in favour of my products, she said, she was happy that I was reliable. This incident brought out the full force of reliability (to me) in pharma business.

Today, too, the means of communicating reliability may be myriad, however, reliability of the brand promise, and reliability of the value delivery mechanism of a firm remain the main reasons of success.

Being reliable is the foundation for market success.

Regularity (of pharma field work) definitely provides the perceived value of reliability. Besides regular field work, constant creative communication inputs that reiterate SAFETY, EFFICACY, PURITY, CONCERN FOR THE CUSTOMER, VALUE DELIVERY, INNOVATION AND AVAILABILITY create the image of reliability.

Communication inputs that refurbish testimonials from doctors, depict images of various certificates earned by the firm (like ISO 22000 etc), the appeal and quality of the communication and marketing inputs - all these enhance the perception of reliability of a pharma firm. Reliability - which is an emotion (a sense of trust) - ensures business.

Conversely, low perception of reliability and any breach of contract that reflects poor reliability - is the main reason for, loss of business.

Building reliability requires understanding market expectations and those of all stakeholders. One should constantly enquire: what the customer or prospects want - for a firm to be classified as reliable. Once the RELIABILITY AUDIT is done the points that generate reliability need to be built in to the pharma enterprise's functioning.

Building reliability in to the processes of a pharma enterprise is a continuous affair. For eg., Auto companies are doing that continuously with new models of cars, innovations, customer feedbacks that are then incorporated in to the car and retailing formats, phone surveys and high quality after-sales service. It is these concepts that can be migrated in to pharma enterprise functioning to keep oneself as the most reliable.

Today, MNCs are creating various marketing formats for engineering higher perceived value of reliability. While GSK has put together a community pharmacy team to service pharma retailers, Pfizer has launched a continuous series of RETAILER MEETS through their MRs, where education programs for pharmacists (on their products and on patient counselling concepts) are held frequently at various towns and villages. This has helped create a new market demand creating force for Pfizer. Pharmacists now hold Pfizer in high esteem!

Futuristic and aggressive pharma firms like Glenmark are using enabling IT systems and processes for improving field force effectiveness and value delivery to doctors, this has in turn helped such companies improve their image as a reliable firm.

IT and mobile telephony has helped improve communication, this has made work more efficient, such improvements have finally increased appeal of reliability of pharma firms.

When a doctor finds a product best-in-class, of good quality, assured availability, sees that his or her patients are happy with the product performance; when the prescriber is happy with the presentation of the product-MR-company-communication inputs-complimentaries-sponsorships, then the reliability factor rises up! Better the reliability, improved are the pharma firm's fortunes.

Hence, the question each pharma manager should ask himself and try and seek answers or solutions for: ARE WE PERCEIVED AS HIGHLY RELIABLE BY THE TARGET MARKET SEGMENTS?

Reliability is not just for the customers. VENDORS, bankers, regulators, traders, service providers, investors, employees, other associates and the general society - all have "reliability requirements".

A pharma firm that meets many of the reliability requirements of most stakeholders, through best practices, will find growth in corporate image, brand equity, sales, market share and good ROI (return on investment). It is this reliability focused functioning that has taken firms like Google, Make My Trip, Intel, Marriott, AND CLARIS LIFESCIENCES (the only pharma company) in the 2011 list as the best places to work for! This is a truly great achievement for Claris, since even biggie pharma firms like DRL, Cipla and Abbott have not made it to the list!!

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Friday, June 17, 2011



Trilogy refers to a series of three related works, for eg., a trilogy of dramas or literary works. Amitav Ghosh is now on a trilogy literary work (Ibis trilogy), first book: SEA OF POPPIES, second book: RIVER OF SMOKE. Third is in the pipeline.

Joseph Juran whose name is synonymous with QUALITY, has given a quality based, 'trilogy of related activities' that will help any business enterprise (the Juran trilogy is represented below):

The first of the triad (above) is identifying the customers and their needs - to satisfy. Thus, value delivery system begins with, identifying needs to be satisfied. When it comes to doctors, what are the main needs to be satisfied?

The broad framework of needs are:
  1. Doctor's need for a reassurance that he is prescribing a quality product which will deliver the brand promise
  2. Doctor's need to prescribe an appropriate product after weighing the pros and cons, risk to benefit aspects
  3. Doctor's need to make the patient healthy and happy (delight patients)
  4. Doctor's need to ensure that the patient recommends him/her so it may enlarge his practice
  5. Doctor's need to be seen as a responsible, trustworthy, and confident professional by his patients
  6. Doctor's need to have inputs and tools that will help in diagnosis and providing the best-in-class therapy to his patients
  7. Doctor's need for a comfort level with material nick-knacks that will help him concentrate and deliver good care to his patients; doctor's need to sponsorships that help him
  8. Doctor's need to be updated with knowledge, provide the same in an easily assimilable form
  9. Reinforce the doctor's confidence with SEEING IS BELIEVING based marketing stories
  10. Doctor's need for status, ego-satisfaction and 'positive strokes'
  11. Constant emphasis that the company and brand is of HIGH QUALITY and of up-to-date technology
In the pharma marketing process, the pharmacist (chemist) retailer and patient too are customers, although doctors are prime customers.

The concerns of pharmacist are

1) Knowing the brand availability and its technical features (in a nutshell)
2) Commercial aspects of the product (MRP, bonus offers, retailer margin etc)

The patient's concerns are the:

1) side effect profile
2) efficacy
3) palatability and organoleptic qualities that affect patient compliance
4) affordability
5) availability
6) quality
7) confidence that he is on the right track!
8) dosage convenience

The second part of the Juran trilogy: is developing processes to produce goods and services, to deliver the value and satisfy above needs.

It is here that pharmaceutical companies invent and manufacture products that deliver efficacy, safety, purity, quality and other value concepts that satisfy the stakeholders including, doctors, retailers, patients and stockists.

The special focus of marketing processes is on attractive and to-the-point communication (messaging), to enhance sales and perceived value. This in turn, strengthens, brand equity, profits, increases market penetration and demand, prescribing and purchasing habits, goodwill, brand image, market share enhancement; gives ideas for further product improvements, better innovations (success breeds success), word-of-mouth and the WOW factor. Creating the market buzz and captivating target audiences in a world where there is severe competition for attention, is the focus of marketing activities. Thus, marketing facilitates the exchange process, sales, prescription generation and retail shelf space availability.

The third component of the Juran trilogy of activities, is the most difficult one! It is about challenging one's comfort zone and taking on complacency. The third point is: CONSTANTLY IMPROVING THESE PROCESSES!

For marketers, it means constant market study, seeking to understand customer perceptions, positioning and repositioning exercises, understanding present and future competition, getting to know the market trends, revisiting marketing strategies, planning new directions for investment of efforts and resources, investing in marketing technologies, new product working ... and finally, constantly improving perceived value and delighting the customer in a surprising way.

There are other trilogies that one can think of:

For example the following is a market structure trilogy.

On one corner, we have the buyer (the patient or patient's attender), the second point of the triangle, we have the seller (trader or manufacturer), and the third most important entity who often goes un-noticed in FMCG marketing, but has a sacred spot in pharmaceutical selling - it is the INFLUENCER (doctor).

In different contexts, the buyer-seller-influencer vary. For eg., it can be

Situation A

Buyer: stockist
Seller: Pharma company C & F
Influencer: Medical Representative (or field personnel)

Situation B

Buyer: Chemist retailer
Seller: Distributor or stockist
Influencer: MR or stockist salesboy or doctor (his prescriptions) or patient (who is insisting on a brand)

Hence, it is important for marketers to take all three points in to consideration for value communication and delivery. The marketer should not be focused only on the influencer doctor, there are also situations A & B (above) which require value delivery.

The other interesting trilogy is one of DEMAND-SUPPLY AND PROFIT.

Often marketers are obsessed with demand creation, there can be a mismatch between supply and demand, and profit is not on the radar! However, when enterprise activities are in line with all three components DEMAND-SUPPLY-PROFITS, there is a healthy organization!

The 'trilogy model' is an effective management tool to represent and clarify ideas. Clarity leads to better action! Thanks for reading this blogpost, please recommend this blog to your acquaintances, read all other blogposts, click on 'older posts' as and when required.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Waves of change

Above image from here.

There are strong winds of change in India, there is a major trend in Indian society towards transparency, anti-corruption and clean governance. Swami Ramdev, the Yoga evangelist and social reformer, held a major anti-corruption cum yoga camp at Ram Leela Grounds in Delhi on 4.6.2011. In the wee hours of 5.6.2011, a 5000 strong police force evacuated the thousands who had gathered there using force and tear gas attacks. The winds of change are evident.

Anna Hazare and Swami Agnivesh, both social reformers and Sri Sri Ravishankar, the international peace worker, discoverer of the Sudarshan Kriya pranayama technique, and social reformer are also working hard to strengthen the anti-corruption movement.

Winds of change in pharmaceutical industry

The pharmaceutical industry is not inured to these societal changes. The DoP (Department of Pharmaceuticals) has drafted a Uniform Voluntary Code of Marketing Practices, which will be reviewed after 6 months. This code will be made statutory if there is no voluntary compliance by pharma industry. The chief mover of the voluntary code for pharma marketers is the DoP.

It is interesting to observe that the DoP has asked for feedback on the code of marketing practices for pharma marketers, at

This move is keeping with the major trends in Indian society, for increased transparency. Perhaps, world over, it is one-of-its kind move, by a Govt. department, to regulate pharma marketing activities. Overall, one has to appreciate this initiative.

Abroad, including in USA, pharma marketing is a very controversial process. This is because of the huge marketing expenditure on prescribers. There are lots of web pages on the controversial activities of pharma marketers abroad, one just has to search on google.

What should the focus of any pharma marketing code be?

Pharma marketing is a very responsible and critical business function. Pharma marketing activities affect fortunes of pharma enterprises in a big way. If pharma marketing is weak, if the doctor perceives that value delivery is insufficient, then marketing outcomes are dis-satisfactory to pharma enterprises.

The main reason why pharma marketing is a tricky process, is that the patient has no say on the brand purchase. The doctor prescribes the medicine being promoted to him by pharma marketers, and the actual purchase is done by the patient. Thus, hand-in-glove relationships between doctor(s) and pharma marketers serves mutual interests. Hence, the need for a code of marketing conduct today!

Pharma marketing code is an interesting document and reads as a long list of do's and don'ts. In fact, the pharma marketing practice code needs to be marketed, not just put out!!

For instance, the pharma marketing code can be brought out in the form of an illustrated book, with each do's and dont's supported by graphics and any live examples from the market (the brand name and pharma marketer identity can be hidden), this will drive the point home better. If there are no examples to emphasize the points in the code, then the points in the marketing code tend to become ambiguous. Live market examples and supporting graphics will make the code points more clearer.

For eg., in point no. 2.4 of the marketing code, if live examples are provided in form of supporting literatures from market or any other market evidences, then point no. 2.4 will be clearer.

There can also be some disputes, for eg., the word 'new' cannot be used for more than 12 months (says point no. 2.3) (but what if the pharma marketer has gone in for a staggered launch - not nation wide launch, by the time it comes to the last geographical region for new product launch, the time for use of the word 'new' would have expired.) Thus, in such a scenario, a regulator may raise objection, which will affect pharma marketer's marketing strategy. And why should "new" mean only 12 months, why can't it be 3 years? Innovations do not get diffused easily. This "new" point needs to be illustrated by live examples to clarify further.

The marketing code ought to have a VISION STATEMENT. This can provide the spirit of the marketing code for pharma marketers.

For eg., the vision statement can include the following points:

"THE CODE OF MARKETING PRACTICE FOR INDIAN PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY endeavors to promote transparency, put information of relevance to public access, prevent acts of omission and commission that may take place between pharma marketer and prescribers, promote legitimate interests of patients, and ensure that the healthcare system in India is the world's best and absolutely trusted.

THE PHARMACEUTICAL MARKETING CODE ENVISIONS TO MAKE THE PHARMACEUTICAL MARKETING PROCESS A KNOWLEDGE DRIVEN PROCESS, rather than a pure commercial value delivery process. Pharma Marketers will be encouraged to contribute to knowledge dissemination and renewal, which will help patient interest. "

It is the age of the internet, in this vein, the pharma marketing code should emphasize that each pharma marketer should compulsorily provide the complete product monograph of each marketed brand on the company website, the print literatures should provide the relevant URL of marketed brand.

Point 3.5 is well written: that promotional materials should be in good taste and non-offensive, however, live market examples should also be provided to illustrate this point. The same should apply to point no. 3.10

Points no. 4.1 to 4.5 deal with the tricky part of regulating in-clinic activity of Medical Representatives and pharma marketers. MR activity involves striking deals with prescribers and shoring up brand sale values. This means, pharma companies should educate themselves and MRs on the right way of in-clinic transactions.

Doctors should also be provided with education on the pharmaceutical marketing code, so that, they do not make uncomfortable demands. Doctors leverage on their prescribing power to strike rich bargains with pharma marketers.

Merely making a marketing code for pharma marketers is not enough. Doctors should also be aware of the pharma marketing code and should adhere with its provisions.

Points 5.1 to 5.5, on right use of samples: Samples are known to boost sales values, they are also known to end up at pharmacies or are sold at lesser value to patients by pharmacists or doctors. Samples ought to be given free for trial ... however ... Will a mere pharma marketing code ensure right usage of samples?

One way out is ensuring that doctors keep a written document (this is said in point no. 5.5) on a Govt. format, on the samples received by him and the usage of samples ie., to which patient he has given it etc. This document can be periodically checked by DRUG INSPECTORS during their field visits, drug inspectors should be empowered to check this document (kept by doctors). This may help rein misuse of samples. Furthermore, sale of samples by pharmacies should be strictly penalized.

When psychotropic substances are sampled, this becomes more tricky. For eg., it is well known that Corex and Phensedyl are abused "medications" including by doctors and medical students (Corex from Pfizer is sold only in India, no where else in the world!)!! Although, point no. 5.4 says that such psychotropic samples should not be given, pharma marketers should be allowed to sample these, but a record of same should also be kept by doctors.

The tricky part of the code is 6.1 and 6.2. The gluttonous appetite for gifts by doctors, has led to major fortunes for pharma companies, many a Ayurvedic company has its sales running on the oxygen of pharma gifting. If gifts are banned, bust goes the prescription flow!

This even threatens the functioning of product management department, in most companies, their major duty is lining up gifts to be provided month after month!!

Pharma companies gift electronic goods, once I was waiting for my turn to call on a skin specialist, when a MR and his manager walked into the clinic, to gift an electronic audio item, the doctor sent back the MR to fetch another model which he wanted, the doctor was not satisfied with the model being gifted!

Wining and dining, along with the throwing of a seminar by a KOL (Key Opinion Leader doctor) is a regular feature.

Pharma companies are known to gift every thing under the sun!!

If gifts are not provided by MRs, they are shunned by doctors!!

A pharma marketing code for gifting and sponsorship (point nos. 7.1 to 7.7) is not easy to practice!! DOCTORS OUGHT TO KNOW ABOUT THE pharma marketing code for these items too!!

TO BE PRAGMATIC, THE PHARMA MARKETING CODE, SHOULD PROVIDE FOR ETHICAL GIFTING AND SPONSORSHIP PRACTICES. The code should be revised and include a section on ethical gifting and sponsorship practices (relationship marketing).

By inviting a cross-section of views from doctors, pharma marketers and general society members, a frame work for ethical gifting and sponsorship practice should be worked out. Small clinically oriented gifts should in fact be encouraged so that pharma marketers empower prescribers. Relationship marketing has to have an ethical framework, and THE MARKETING CODE SHOULD INCLUDE THE ETHICAL GIFTING AND SPONSORSHIP PRACTICES FRAMEWORK IN A NEW SECTION ON RELATIONSHIP MARKETING PRACTICE.

One way of ensuring ethical gifting, sponsorship and relationship marketing is by ensuring that each and every pharma marketer publishes on a Govt. DoP website, on a monthly basis, the gifts and sponsorship activities done and the names of doctors who are recipients of the same. This will also make doctors wary of asking for and receiving gifts and sponsorships.

THE REST OF THE DOCUMENT FROM DoP ON THE UNIFORM CODE OF MARKETING PRACTICE FOR INDIAN PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY, deals with the system of capturing complaints on pharma marketing malpractices and methods to address the same. As such, the endeavour is quite appreciated, however, in India, all these voluntary concepts will not work!! Only a law may work!! Chalta hai is India, hence, voluntarily following the code will not work.

The pharmaceutical marketing arena is more complex

There are more elements of pharma marketing process which are not covered by the present code.

For eg., pharma marketers provide gifts to pharmacies and retailers, so they may "push" and substitute prescribed pharma brands in favour of the pharma brand that provides best margins or gifts. Retail push marketing is a legitimate marketing effort, however it is a joke like atmosphere, there are companies who provide free goods eg.: 1 box free on purchase of 1 box, or even more!! No free goods go to the patient, it is only to the pharma retailer. The pharma retailer also enjoys the fierce competition between pharma marketers, by getting freebies and free goods (and adjustment of samples!). All these practices are not covered by the present pharma marketing code.

Pharma marketers provide exclusive offers or discounts to chain purchasers or hospitals or dispensing doctors, purchasing the product. The benefits are enjoyed by the traders or these purchasers, the patient does not get the advantage.

Pharmaceutical marketers also produce goods for OTC consumption

Pharma marketers also provide products for OTC consumption (dietary supplements etc). These activities are not addressed exclusively by the pharma marketing document.


and there are interesting 'relationship marketing' practices, here too, which can also be looked into, since these practices also affect the cost price of the product!!

The bright spot is that DoP has begun addressing patient concerns. DoP is trying to discipline the marketing environment. In the end, a disciplined pharma marketing environment will benefit all, including the pharma marketers themselves.



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