do pharma companies need to market their products?

In the last few years, from 2017 to 2019, due to a chronic illness I suffered from, plus a few other close family cases – I got a chance to experience the Indian Health and Pharmaceutical sector up close.

And it isn’t all roses and sunshine.

Last night, while reading about the recent debate about the Uniform Code for Pharmaceuticals Marketing Practices ( UCPMP), I found hope.

Let me try and explain what I could infer about the marketing problem of Indian pharma giants.

Seven pharma companies have spent 34,187 INR Crores in the last seven years on marketing life-saving drugs.

If you visit your doctor at odd hours, you might find men with files and pamphlets sitting in the doctor’s cabin. These gentlemen are known as the Medical Representatives from the pharma companies, whose job is to convince doctors to prescribe the drug belonging to their companies.

And to meet their targets (which increase by 30% yoy), the MRs have to do all sorts of things to convince the docs and often spend money too on gifts. Later these gifts end up as marketing or promotional items on the company’s books, increasing the price of life-saving drugs.

To illustrate with the help of data, let’s take a look at the below figures:

Marketing Expenses –

• Dr Reddy’s Laboratories – 980 INR Crores
• Zydus Lifesciences – 546 INR Crores

With UCPMP’s legalisation, this could change and possibly bring down the price of drugs.

Legalisation would mean severe penalties if the break the UCPMP code as opposed to the current nature of the code, which has no strict de-incentivisation methods.

What do you think? Will UCPMP help?

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