Prescription Behavior of Doctors: An Enigma for Marketers


Hemant Bamoriya
Sr. Lecturer
Faculty of Management Studies, AITR

The Indian pharma market is a US$ 9 billion opportunity with the domestic retail market expected to cross the US$ 10 billion mark in 2010 and be worth an estimated US$ 12-13 billion in 2012. Indian pharmaceutical industry ranks 4th globally in terms of volume with 8 per cent share in global sales. In terms of value it ranks 13th with a share of 1 per cent in global sales and produces 20-24 per cent of the world's generic drugs (in terms of value). India is also one of the top five active pharmaceutical ingredients producers' volume-wise with a share of about 6.5 per cent (Source: Pharma Biz)1. Endorsing the strong growth signals of the Indian pharma industry, a report from McKinsey predicts that by 2015, this market will triple to touch US$ 20 billion.

The Indian Pharma market is having approx 20,000 registered manufacturers. This crowded segment has over 70,000 brands, reflecting brand clutter. There are about 20000 medical representatives in the country promoting products to about 10 lakh doctors.  Indian healthcare market is typical in the sense that the Doctors are the one who decides the therapy and drugs for the consumers i.e. patients. So marketers promote their products directly to the Doctors, so as to influence prescription generation by them.

Due to the fierce competition and peculiar nature of Pharma market, marketing spending averages 20-30% of sales turnover of the industry, against the 5-8% spending on R&D (Source: Express Pharma)2. This heavy promotion is mainly targeted at influencing the prescription behavior of Doctors. Personal selling is the most widely employed method in pharma marketing in India, although very costly in nature but this method touches the essence of pharma marketing i.e. prescription generation. Indian Pharmaceutical firms are spending a huge and ever-increasing budget on doctors' visits (sales calls by pharmaceutical representatives) for generating prescriptions. At a same time marketing budget has further undergone many fold increase due to Sampling, Symposiums, etc.

But marketers are in a great dilemma about what drives the Doctors towards a particular prescription behavior. There are some researches conducted on the same in Indian context. Many factors affect prescription behavior through complex interactions. A research by Bamoriya (2011)3 suggests marketers to judiciously plan medical representatives' visits to doctors as numbers of visit in a month directly affects qualitative and quantitative prescription behavior. Further prescription behavior is claimed to be affected by Specialty and Length of practice of Doctor. Detailing positively affects prescription behavior,
but that high-volume doctors, while being detailed more, are less responsive to detailing as compared to low-volume doctors (Manchanda & Chintagunta 2004)4.

A study by Bamoriya, Singh & Singh (2009) attempts solves the complex enigma of prescription behavior in comprehensive manner. They ranked 16 variables which affect prescription behavior of doctors on the basis of empirical findings.





    MR's product knowledge



Availability of drug



    Therapeutic Efficacy






Symposium, CMEs, Seminars



MR's communication skills



Dosage convenience



Side effects



Price of the drug






Regularity of Visits



Personality of MR



Patient's like-dislikes



Patient's expectation for prescription



Relationship Marketing



Frequent visits


                                                       (Source: Bamoriya et al. 2009)5

So to successfully influence prescription behavior, Marketers must understand various factors i.e. Interaction with Patients, Medical representatives' attributes, Drug characteristics, Promotion, Price of drug, Availability and their relative importance perceived by the doctors in prescription decision-making. Especially Marketers must focus on improving product knowledge and communication skills of Medical Representatives to gain competitive advantage.

3. Bamoriya Hemant (2011). When your Flagship Brand does Bad: Case of an Oral Hypoglycemic Brand in India. Pharma Marketing Journal, Germany
4. Manchanda P. & Chintagunta P. K. (2004). Response Modeling with Nonrandom Marketing-Mix Variables. Journal of Marketing Research, USA
5. Bamoriya Hemant, Singh R. and Singh P. (2009). Study of the factors affecting prescription behavior of the doctors. Review of Business and Technology Research. USA

Hemant Bamoriya
Sr. Lecturer
Faculty of Management Studies, AITR

Source: E-mail August 8, 2011


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