Good Pharma: How Marketing creates Value in Pharma

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 Pre Conference Workshop by Marcel Corstijens

Good Pharma: How Marketing 
creates Value in Pharma

KARACHI: Prof. Marcel Corstijens the Unilever Chartered Professor of Marketing at INSEAD conducted the Pre-Conference workshop on May 2nd 2016 during the Second Pakistan Pharma Summit 2016 and tried to make it as much interactive as possible.  Speaking about the image of the industry he said, it was bad Pharma.  Every industry, he pointed out, has its own problems and nothing is perfect. People like to criticize and like bad things. It was Germany which started with the pharmaceuticals and it all started with Dyes and Chemicals and now a small city of Basle in Switzerland has the top two pharmaceuticals of the world Novartis and Roche. On must determine where to play, how to win and there are always multiple stakeholders. Marketing implementation consists of communication, sales force, sampling and pricing. He then talked as to what determines the success for a new product.

Phillips, he said was very good at innovations but it could not sustain and succeed in the market.  Talking about the Japanese philosophy he said that if you talk to a Japanese and give him some business proposal, their response is always, “we are honoured”  and if you ask them for the final response, they will say “I will talk to my team”. He reminded the audience that you should always look at your customer, whether they can afford to buy it. There are some status conscious people who will buy any new expensive thing. However, while marketing new or old products, always ask yourself two questions. Firstly who is your customer and why he will prefer this model. Target customers and the competitors.


Prof. Marcel Corstijens who conducted a Pre-Conference Workshop
receiving a Mementoe from Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar Federal Minister of
State for Health during the Second Pakistan Pharma Summit
held at Karachi on May 3, 2016.

Continuing Prof. Marcel said that in order to win, you should go for branding, Research and Development and you must have insight to improve the product. Speaking about the differential advantages he said it must be perceived to be unique, relevant for the customers and sustainable. He then talked about the difference between functional and emotional advantage which will be more sustainable. He then narrated the story of Dove soap. This Beauty Bar was launched in 1957 as a superior product with a real demonstrable point of difference.  It promised the women that it won’t dry their skin the way soap did and it did not. He then showed the advertising campaign of Dove which said “Never use soap in Winter as Winter cold and Winter winds will dry your skin and soap can make it worse. Dove never dries the way soap can. On the contrary Dove creams your skin while you wash”.

Food Industry, Mr.Marcel Corstjens opined needs to be controlled. Food and sugar are the two culprits which is responsible for increased obesity which leads to hypertension and diabetes mellitus. It has a tremendous cost to the society so much so that it has to be regulated. But the food industry says it is the choice of the people as to what they should eat, who are you to curtail their freedom of choice? Drug advertising in Pharma has to be evidence based and outcome driven. Tell the scientific truth with head to head clinical trials.  If you say it is the only one best in the market, you have to give its evidence. Bayer Healthcarehe pointed out could not reproduce published results in 75% of seminal studies. Length and time of the study and which product formulation all matter.

Speaking about challenges and opportunities, Mr. Marcel said that stakeholders are the decision making. And it all depends on communication, Research and Development and the distribution. The world of branding, he further stated, is changing. Internet is changing the whole industry. He then talked about the comparison of Viagra with Cialis and said their competitors tried to find out where they were playing and how do they win. Cialis then came up with a different marketing strategy. They promoted the fact that Cialis worked for thirty six hours as compared to Viagra which was effective for just six hours. The drug being dormant for such a long time produced some undesired side effects.  But then Cialis got the insight. They came up with the campaign that Viagra target market was males and they could aim it at the family and take away stress from the couple as they could be relaxed.

Internet, he said, is going to change every industry. It is going to add new competitors. Google, he pointed out, has now a Pharmaceutical arm, it is Google Healthcare for the elderly people and they are going to invest billions of dollars in this. Branding, Insight, Research and Development were the three things to win.  One also needs to have deeper understanding as to what people like to have. Cialis was discovered during side effects of a drug. Continuing Mr. Marcel emphasized that execution was the key to success.  Even if it is a great idea but poor execution, it won’t be a success. He referred to the discovery of Lamisil for fungal nail infections. To market this drug, Novartis first created disease awareness campaign to push its sales. There are multiple stakeholders which include prescribers, pharmacists, nurses, Government, Insurance companies and the Patients. It is important that you ensure market access. This is the process to ensure that all appropriate patients who would benefit should get rapid and maintained access to the product at the right price. One has to cross different hurdles which are Safety, Efficacy, Medical Effectiveness, Cost effectiveness and Affordability. At times it is important to hire people from the government departments to find out what their thinking is and how it works, he remarked.

Pharma industry has a bad image because of prices. He then referred to lack of clear strategy, lack of likely evidence and failure to generate right evidence at the right time. Lack of effective value communication, pricing strategy. He emphasized the importance of private health insurance tosolve the problem of healthcare cost. Private Health Insurance has tremendous opportunities in every country including Pakistan. It is important that you should have an insight. Work with some insurance companies. Work with them and work synergistically, they will be happy. Select a few disease based on the data you have. Roche did it in China and it targeted Lung Cancer which has high prevalence in China. Government is always interested in bringing down the cost. Come up with disease management initiatives. Manage the diabetes mellitus which will reduce the complications. It should be a win win situation for everyone for the government, for the patients and the insurance companies. On the road to success, there are no short cuts, he concluded.


Some of the speakers at the Second Pakistan Pharma Summit photographed with members of the
organizing committee from (L to R) are Mr. Asad Shuja-ur –Rehman, Mr. Hamid Raza, Mr. Hanif
Sattar, Dr. Zakiuddin,
Mr. Israr Chaudhary, Mr. Osama Qasim, Dr. Kaiser Waheed, and Mr. M. Qayyum.

His next presentation during the workshop was on New Product Success. He laid emphasis that while functional advantages were good but emotional advantage is very important in branded generics. His advice to the workshop participants was that talk about value than pricing alone. Pharma industry is based on emotional positions. Hence functional and emotional strategy works. Develop relationship with your customer and the prescribers. Many new products are not successful and cost the industry in billions of dollars. Success is measured by subjectively forecasted sales while product quality is measured subjectively when product is already on the market. Speaking about the key success factors for peak sales Mr. Marcel mentioned order of entry, intrinsic quality of the product, line extensions, growth rate of the market at the time of Introduction, First year sales. Though quality of the product and growth rate of the market were the two most important factors but still the most important factor was the First Year Sales. Marketing can make lot of mistakes and one should try to learn from those mistakes. First year sales are the great predictor. If you have not made it during the first year, you cannot get it later. It is difficult to change the perception.

Speaking about the role and importance of opinion leaders Mr. Marcel said that one needs lot of hard evidence to change the mind of the opinion leaders. Quality is already there in the pharmaceutical products as bad products are eliminated during the process by FDA and other agencies and they are not marketed. His advice to the workshop participants was to concentrate to be a success. Sales of a product are different in different countries and it has nothing to do with the quality of the product. What you do with the product is important.

FDA’s Therapeutic rating for drugs

  1. Drugs offering important therapeutic gains over the existing therapies are given a Grade-A.
  2. Drugs that offer modest therapeutic gains over the existing therapies are given Grade-B
  3. Drugs offering little or no therapeutic gains over the existing therapies are given Grade-C.

It will be interesting to note that most of the drugs being marketed by various companies are given Grading or priority C by the FDA.

Factors for critical success include Leadership and how you inspire your people besides focusing on the resources as to where you are going to make investments.

In the afternoon session Mr. Marcel discussed as to what determines the first year sales. It is the marketing investment, pre marketing and after marketing investment. It is very critical to convince the senior management to make investment. It is to have best competent people who market the product. It is up to you how you sell your product. Create something in your strategy that people have belief in your product. It is also important how you motivate people who work for you. In resources allocation he discussed portfolio alignment and strategy and talked in detail what the Mc Kinsey portfolio, making the long term and short term trade off. Make high investment in those selected products which can improve competitive position and make investment to maintain sustainable growth.

He then discussed the three steps to implementation approach which included identifying three to five key drivers. Then in each driver, identify which stakeholders can affect each of the key drivers. And finally for each stake holder, one should define what should be done and only then one should list actions which will help achieve this behaviour, he concluded.

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