Monday, January 5, 2015

UCPMP: a glimmer of hope is the pharmacies!

The confused look!  From here!!

So at last, here it is UCPMP: Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices!  A code of conduct to reign in aggressive pharma marketers (like me?!).  The UCPMP has provided a very strict and puritanical code of conduct when it comes to providing "inputs" to prescribers.  It is assumed/implied UCPMP is applicable to allopathic and other medical practitioners.  Regarding non-drug products prescribed by doctors (such as dietary supplements, foods etc), the UCPMP is not explicitly expressing its views.  However, the spirit of the document is stark clear, to cleanse the Augean stables in pharma-medical market; and try to give a better deal to the patient. 

Two things of the UCPMP stand out, which impact day-to-day marketing activity:

1) Samples to be provided only on signed and dated request by qualified prescribers - and pharma marketer has to limit sampling to just three patient dosages!  We pharma marketers have to keep a tab and records of such samples given (and better still collect remarks from prescribers) (sales stocks converted to samples without stamp of FREE MEDICAL SAMPLE - NOT FOR SALE, cannot be given!)


Although I got the photocopy of UCPMP (duly signed by Mr. Raj Kumar, Under Secretary, GOI) ... last month ... I am yet to come out of the "shock").  Slowly ... I am doing what others are doing ... peeping into the market and reading the reports in media to size up the situation and start re-plotting marketing strategems!!

The immediate impact of this important document - UCPMP - is that TECHNICAL MARKETING, detailing and training will get a major focus. 

During in-clinic activity and in-stall or booth activity:  it will depend on influence and persuasive power of the pharma marketer and communicator.  Jo dikhta hain bikhta hain.  Mere handing over of samples, gifts and sponsorships will no more provide the market demand impetus or stimulus.  Persuasive communication - based on rationale, creating positive emotions and a rigid ethical format - is the need of the hour.  This is easily said - than done.  It means marketing will upgrade from soldiering to incorporating significant intellectual activity. 

Learning and training will be the lodestones of pharma marketing, if one follows UCPMP to the T, along with it - creative ethical persuasive value-added product promotional materials (that cannot be compliments or gifts!) will be required as collaterals to communication and field activity.

However, UCPMP will cause significant pain to doctors - pharma marketers will also be a confused lot. 

The UCPMP is so serious, it makes the owner or head of marketing organization responsible for adherence to this code of conduct.

Right now - it is a voluntary code of conduct, however, OPPI is lobbying to make it a mandatory or a statutory code of conduct...


Oh! Yes!!  The UCPMP is a document focused on disciplining the pharma marketer and prescriber relationship. 

It has left out the relationship between pharma marketer and pharmacies; and the understandings between the pharmacies and doctors.  These market realities are too knotty for GOI to decipher.

Therein lies our opportunity!

We can continue with the bonus offer schemes, provide freebies to pharmacies ... and see if there can be a way to reach prescribers through the pharmacies (without actually contravening the UCPMP) ...

So mum's the word!!  The UCPMP does not use the word pharmacy or medical shop anywhere... only agents/third party distributors are referred to, so the pharmacy coast is clear

A new dimension of pharma marketing UCPMP has entered the pharma marketer's arena (along with the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954).  Let us hope for the best!

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