Physicians are the most important people in pharmaceutical sales among the chemists, hospitals or pharmacies since they receive the products and give feedback to the companies. Pharmaceutical sales is a very lucrative and high paying job but equally challenging. Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives use a variety of techniques to reach their audiences. It is a well-known fact that Pharmaceutical companies invest a lot of money for gifting doctors as a part of their ‘marketing scheme’. Many doctors are gifted things such as meals, travel expenses, books, and speaking fees by the pharma sales even though it is banned by the government.
Before technology swept over the world, the most effective tool in pharma sales was giving free drug samples to the physicians. This was done to attract the physicians to their chain of medicines and pharma companies used to spend billions annually distributing free drug samples. Many critics from the medical profession have blamed that this method causes physicians to prescribe new and higher-cost medications when generics or lower-priced brand drugs are available.
Over the few years the government and top medical associations such as the American Medical Association, Food and Drug Administration, etc. have formed many laws regarding the etiquettes and boundaries to be followed while selling medicines. Now pharma marketers use techniques just like any other marketers such as social media, quality content, Guerrilla marketing, in exhibitions and conferences, reaching the medical professionals through online communities and many more. Marketing to health-care providers takes three main forms: activity by pharmaceutical sales representatives, provision of drug samples, and sponsoring continuing medical education. Physicians and medical experts are using technology more finely than in any other sector. The global healthcare sector invested $8.2 billion in handheld devices and related applications in 2009, according to Kalorama.
Pharmaceutical sales and marketing industry is filled with many challenges such as intense government intervention due to sensitivity of the products, extreme competition because there no similar substitutes, sales reps have to wait long hours until the doctor or hospital representative is available, the targets given to people involved are high and require continuous hard work and long hours of working too.
Modern technology is an important enabler for the pharmaceutical companies’ sales & marketing departments in their efforts to meet the industries new challenges. Pharmaceutical companies must realize the future growth potential of the market and build their capabilities to enhance their value offerings.