Sunday, May 31, 2009

El dorado!!

All marketers including pharma marketers are in search of an El dorado - a rich vein of market opportunity that will create a blockbuster brand or a family of blockbusters.

The above pig story is on the same lines. Featured in the above image are genetically engineered pigs that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. They are the omega 3 pigs (or boars actually)! The USP is supposed to be omega 3 rich pig meat that even avoids concerns of heavy metal poisoning in fish!! I got the above image from here.

So where are the El dorados' for pharma marketers today?


Pharma marketers visualize two market opportunities in the contemporary world.

The first is the mass market opportunity. Drugs that are based on the concept of one-cap fits all. For eg., statins like atorvastatin or NSAIDs like celecoxib.

The second is the targeted drug therapy (niche market opportunities). This is a tight market. Many of the drugs in the targeted drug therapy market are biologics.

Biologics is a broad term, however, this term is used mainly to indicate products manufactured using recombinant DNA technology or genetic technology. The first biologic or biopharmaceutical was recombinant human insulin. Another famous drug in this class is recombinant erythropoietin. Monoclonal antibodies (MABs) are also important drugs in this class used for fighting infections, cancer, and autoimmune diseases like RA (rheumatoid arthritis).

Biologics are very attractive to pharma marketers chiefly for two reasons - high margins and they are not very easy to duplicate by generic marketers. So you can hold on to your market for longer. Further, most biologics address chronic care markets - this means good revenues.

Pharmacogenomics is responsible for growth of the targeted drug therapy market.

Pharmacogenomics deals with the study of genetically influenced variations of response to drug therapy. Each person has a unique genetic profile (genotype of a person). Response to drug therapy is influenced by these genetic variations.

When Bristol Myers Squibb launched pravastatin (a statin that reduces blood cholesterol levels), they found that the drug acts in about 85% of the population who had a B1 allele of the CETP gene. The drug was not effective in people with B2 allelic variant. This means the drug targeted only a section of the population.

Similarly, Herceptin (trastuzumab) is a breast cancer monoclonal antibody drug. This drug binds selectively to HER 2 receptors (proteins). When Herceptin blocks the defective HER proteins, the breast cancer cells do not reproduce uncontrollably. However, Herceptin is effective only in those patients who have the defective HER NEU 2 gene ie. HER 2 positive patients.

The rise in the application of pharamcogenomics is leading towards PERSONALIZED MEDICINE. Drugs are given based on the genetic susceptibility or genetic profile of a person. New drugs are invented and targeted to patients who have the genetics compatible to the drug profile. An interesting example is Gleevec (imatinib) that is given to patients suffering from chronic myeloid leukemia (a type blood cancer). Imatinib works by inhibiting an enzyme called tyrosine kinase. When this enzyme is overactive it leads to growth of leukemia cells. Imatinib is effective in 95% of the chronic myeloid leukemia patients as they have a defective gene (called the Philadelphia chromosome) that makes more of tyrosine kinase. 20% of the blood cancers are chronic myeloid leukemia. Hence, imatinib is the first-line therapy in most of chronic myeloid leukemia patients. Imatinib is an excellent example of personalized medicine.


To successfully commercialize targeted drug therapies like imatinib, or rituximab (Rituxan, an anticancer monoclonal antibody) pharma marketers use a concept called HYBRID PHARMA MARKETING. In fact, this approach can be used to bullet proof commercialization of any new pharma product too. The niche marketing approach of HYBRID PHARMA MARKETING is not a rocket science - yet it is simple and elegant.

Step 1: Identify OPINION BUILDER doctors in the niche segment targeted by the new molecule. For example, if it is a new MAB for rheumatoid arthritis, establish relations with say 50 to 100 RA experts and make them the opinion builder doctors for this new drug candidate.

Simultaneously, identify and start communicating with patients - particularly through the internet - who will be interested in such a new molecule.

Keep both, key doctors and patients in the loop as the drug passes through the various clinical trial stages.

Step 2: Use the opinion builder doctors' suggestions and share information as the molecule goes through the phase 1, phase 2, and phase 3 clinical trials.

Invite patients through the web, to participate in the drug development process. Create patient opinion builders who will lobby and demand for the quick development of the drug. These patients are 'primed' to accept the drug, if and when the drug is commercialized.

In essence, the above is intense PRELAUNCH MARKETING even as early as 5 years before the drug makes it from the lab to market. CLINICAL TRIAL DATA IS A CREDIBLE AND POWERFUL FORM OF PRELAUNCH MARKETING.

Step 3: Ensure a steady stream of publications in journals. More the documentation, higher is the success of the new molecule. Publications build data, and confidence. Build the buzz through journal advts., articles, talks at conferences, and publications. Science based marketing requires data and this helps in differentiation of the product so that the real patients who will find it useful will drive the demand and consumption. For eg., nateglinide was specifically sharply positioned for glucose spikes post meals.

HYBRID PHARMA MARKETING is the process of marketing to doctors and patients. This involves well planned prelaunch activity to soften the ground and ensure success of the new product. Patients are very important demand creators as the net has enabled the empowered patient.


Biogenerics are preferably known as biosimilars (or follow-on biologics). The market for this segment is 100 billion USD of the global 1000 billion USD pharma market. To commercialize biosimilars, additional efficacy and safety data has to be generated. It is not as easy as chemical generic marketing. To succeed with a biosimilar brand one has to win the confidence of the target doctors, that the value preposition is similar to or better than the original innovator product. What better than use the principles of HYBRID MARKETING?!

Let us say, during the entire process of developing the additional data for a biosimilar product, each MR enrolls one opinion builder doctor in his territory for the prelaunch activity. Further, simultaneously, patients are kept in the loop through the web. So these doctors and patients are already primed to receive the biosimilar as and when it is commercialized.

Prelaunch activity, publications, conference talks, and creating the buzz; and communication with opinion builder doctors and a pool of prospective end consumers (patients) are the cardinal features of HYBRID MARKETING. The approach of hybrid marketing helps the new product gain a quick lead when commercialized.

The principles of HYBRID MARKETING incorporating the above aspects can be applied to new mass products too. This will enable quicker success, and establishment of the product as a market leader.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Google Wikipedia Chemical Library For Modern Medicine


Mention the words, modern medicine and the words "MAGIC BULLET" spring to one's mind. These two magic words sum up the end point of modern medicine. When faced with a disease management problem, modern medicine dips in to the magic box of research to bring out a brand of a MAGIC BULLET (molecules that selectively target bacteria or may be some disease causing agent) that will help resolve the disease. This summarizes the approach of modern medicine.

Dr. Paul Ehrlich pioneered the magic bullet approach. His seminal work on syphilis, TB and other diseases laid down the foundation for the pharmaceutical industry. Alexander Fleming too did new paradigm work with his serendipitous discovery of penicillin and his work on lysozyme. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the research work of these two gentlemen created the basic approach of the modern pharmaceutical industry.

What Paul Ehrlich and Alexander Fleming did was to usher in a particular way and thinking for creating new drugs. The process involved screening chemicals (synthetic and natural) and identifying their health benefits. Antimicrobials that interfere with protein synthesis of pathogenic bacteria - for instance, is an example of this approach. This approach has yielded many molecules that have conferred health promoting benefits to the world. And what this approach has also done is, it has helped create BLOCKBUSTERS.

Blockbusters have been created using the SAR (structure - activity relationship) approach too. In this approach, the target for drug action in the body is first characterized. For eg., the Cox 2 enzyme structure was studied in detail and a molecule, tailor-made to block the enzyme was synthesized. This approach was used for inventing Vioxx (rofecoxib).

Thus, there are two main approaches to create blockbusters:

a) screen natural and synthetic compounds, and extract or synthesize compounds on the basis of the natural template or synthetic molecule. Egs. penicillin range (from Penicillium notatum), cephalosporins (from a type of fungus), aspirin (willow tree extract), and fluoroquinolones (molecular modification of nalidixic acid).

b) the second approach is to synthesize molecules based on specific drug action targets.

These two approaches continue to be the mainstays of new drug discovery. Today, biotech methods and genomics are also used to create new drugs.

Billion dollar dreams

The pharma industry operates on the billion dollar dream. When a major pharma company launches a brand, the target is to generate minimum 1 billion dollar sales per year. A billion dollar brand is called a BLOCKBUSTER molecule or product. The first billion dollar baby was the 1977 drug TAGAMET (cimetidine). Glaxo followed up this molecule with its closely related molecule (called 'me-too' drugs, however, in India a me-too drug refers to the same generic with a different brand name, internationally, me-too drugs are molecular modifications of the innovator molecule) - ranitidine (Zinetac), which became another blockbuster.

The blockbuster approach has created around 100 blockbusters in the global pharma industry, with the famous Lipitor (atorvastatin) being the leading 12.2 billion USD blockbuster.

So the aim of pharma marketers is to have more and more blockbusters in the product basket. The below 1 billion USD drugs are not of high interest to most major pharma marketers. In fact, this is the reason that even though the global antibiotic market is 25 billion USD (Dec 2006), pharma biggies are not interested in this market. It is not easy to create blockbuster brands (above 1 billion USD sales per annum) in the antibiotic market (as it is not a chronic treatment market), and 60% of the antibiotics now are generic (out of patent) - hence pharma majors are not excited by this market.

The rising cost of new drugs discovery and high hurdle regulatory parameters make new product work riskier

If penicillin was discovered in the present age, probably it would not have made it to the market. The reason is adverse reactions. Same with chloramphenicol and streptomycin. Today, new drug discovery is costly and the high hurdle regulations make it more challenging, since failure rates are higher.

The tragedy of the blockbuster approach

The magnificent obsession of pharma marketers to have blockbusters in the product portfolio, has in a way created a tragedy for humanity:

a) certain disease areas are neglected due to low chances of creating blockbuster brands (eg., anti-infectives)
b) many below 1 billion USD molecules get ignored - for eg., if there is a promising drug for antilice activity, or as an anthelmintic, but if its market revenue potential is only 250 million USD or 500 million USD then the pharma company drops the new drug candidate from further commercialization work, as it does not fit the blockbuster (ie., 1 billion USD sales per annum) criteria.

As a result, IT IS POSSIBLE many promising molecules are lying neglected in the CHEMICAL LIBRARIES of pharma companies and other R & D institutions.

Hence, it is imperative that Google, Wikipedia, pharma companies, leading institutions, Govts., WHO, and other bodies come together to create an open source digital library of such chemicals. There is no point keeping the knowledge of these molecules (small and big molecules) buried in confidential files.

Wikipedia has heralded a new approach to knowledge empowerment. In fact, they are the perfect media along with Google to create an open source digital chemical library that provides all details of the molecule candidate (IUPAC name etc) and the status of the research & other research details related to it. Let us say, Pfizer has in its library a molecule with possible great benefits in Kala azar (a potentially fatal parasitic disease in North India) or onychomycosis (fungal infection of nail) - and Pfizer is obviously not interested in this molecule - it is best that all details of such molecules are put out on the internet through Wikipedia or Google, so that interested agencies can put the knowledge to good use. THIS IS THE CONCEPT OF THE GOOGLE WIKIPEDIA DIGITAL CHEMICAL LIBRARY. This will certainly create a new age in drug discovery or drug commercialization.

Today, pharma marketers are in the rat race to create blockbusters. The new product researchers are the Pied Pipers who are playing the musical tune promising great blockbusters - pharma marketers like rats fall for the tune, and may be even drown in the river of failure after experiencing commercialization failure or are unable to make the molecule a blockbuster. That is why you see the Pied Piper's image at the start of this blogpost.

Wikipedia and Google have made dramatic contributions to creating and sharing knowledge. In fact, they can even start courses and offer certificates, diplomas, and degrees! Let us say, Google and Wikipedia announce an online 'certificate course on nutrition'.





Any way, Wikipedia and Google are very important resources of humanity that can be harnessed to create open source digital chemical libraries (of magic bullets!) that can be mined for knowledge and create MODERN healthcare products for the benefit of humanity.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Marketing and Jan Aushadi

I GOT THE ABOVE IMAGE FROM HERE. India is a unique healthcare marketing challenge. In India, there are no social security schemes la-America or a robust payer system as in America or EU. Most of healthcare expenses are borne by the patients or their families. Hence, any initiative that decreases cost of healthcare (products or services) without compromising on quality will certainly benefit the society. These thoughts come in the background of the Jan Aushadi (generic drug stores) approach announced by the Dept. of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. of India.

The Jan Aushadi Concept

s with most Govt. programs, the Jan Aushadi retail store concept is a breakthrough and laudable venture, from the point of view of patient or healthcare consumer. The stores will provide generic (unbranded) medicines at a fraction of the usual MRPs (ie., maximum retail prices). For instance, a strip of paracetamol normally costs Rs. 11/-; Jan Aushadi stores promise to retail each paracetamol strip of 10s at Rs. 2.30. Per se, it is possible to offer medicines at such low costs, because unbranded generics (or generic-generics) are already being supplied by small manufacturers to dispensing doctors or for retail-push at very low costs. So the basic value preposition of Jan Aushadi is feasible.


After all, let us not forget the Govt. has always ventured to provide free medicines and low cost medicines through Govt. pharmacies in the past. So is the Jan Aushadi concept, akin to reinventing the wheel, albeit, with a new name? Or will the Jan Aushadi concept provide additional and novel value to patients?


Marketing is the soul of every organizational activity (whether nonprofit or for-profit organizations). While, finance is said to be the life-blood of every organization, the soul or life energy of an organization is marketing. By definition, marketing is a value delivery process. Something of value is delivered to the target audience. Customers, clients, partners, and society at large are benefited through the communication intensive and the creative process of marketing. No venture can succeed without a cogent marketing plan. Unfortunately, most ventures and initiatives are based on financial planning with only a passing mention that marketing aspects will be given due importance. However, when the roll-out of the venture starts, many of the marketing aspects are still unaddressed - the minutiae of marketing are not looked into. There in lies the tragedy because, MOST VENTURES HAVE SUCCEEDED NOT DUE TO TIGHT FINANCIAL PLANNING (although it is very important), THE VENTURES HAVE SUCCEEDED DUE TO MARKETING GENIUS.

Branding is the foundation of marketing

Jeremy Rifkin an economist has said - WHAT IS BEING SOLD ARE NOT PRODUCTS OR SERVICES, BUT IDEAS AND IMAGES. This is what is meant by a brand. The images, associations, and experiences associated with a service, product, or entity is called a BRAND. Google is the world's first 100 billion USD plus brand. It is the world's most valuable brand - there are intangible and tangible dimensions that make it so. Brands are the most important assets of any business or nonprofit venture. Brands are the covenants of trust. When Himalayan water is advertised, below comes a tagline, A TATA BRAND. This sentence is added, to motivate the prospect to buy Himalayan water, since the word TATA is a covenant of trust. Brand building is in essence trust building, relationship building, which further builds consistent buying habits.

Gone are the days, where marketing aspects are looked at lightly or the market is taken for granted. In fact, marketing, communication planning, and branding are issues that are seriously looked into. Marketing finally increases consumption of the product or service. Marketing creates repeat purchase patterns, and encourages adoption by new prospects and customers. Marketing is hence, required for a sustainable business.

Why is Jan Aushadi important?

India is a country full of ironies, contrasts, and bewildering inequities. It is only the philosophical attitude of Indians, that is sustaining the civil society without any violence! On one end of the spectrum, you have filthy rich Indians like Mukesh Ambani, who is building a fabulous 2 billion USD house (the richest residential property in the world) called Antilia. And on the other hand, there are about 40 crore (400 million) Indians really poor in India, mainly in the rural places (earning less than average Rs. 40 per day). In recent times, there is no doubt that things have really improved, however, poor people (urban and rural areas) in India are a reality - as real as the inequities in India.

How to tackle the challenging poverty and inequities in India?

The answer lies in C K Prahlad's theory of FORTUNE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PYRAMID.

India has very entrepreneurial people, not necessarily charity minded people. Most like doing business - more than giving away wealth in charity! They certainly do not mind very low profits, but they want to make atleast Rs. 1/- profit - or Goddess Laxmi (the Goddess of wealth) will be unhappy! It is an attitude to make atleast some profit. This attitude helps gain scale in businesses, mass customised marketing, and thereby, this improves living standards in society.

The classic Western business mindset is antagonistic to the above. The idea of doing business is to make a killing, earn rich profits, and may be even sell off the business for a fancy price.

The traditional Indian business mindset is to have a sustainable business for generations.

A classic example of the fortune-at-the-bottom-of-the-pyramid-attitude is the exalted TATA NANO car, that will surely redefine automobile industry. It is an example of Ratan Tata's stroke of business genius that runs in the TATA genes! The Tata Nano has made the car AFFORDABLE. The platform for marketing and consumption for the Tata Nano car is quality (Tata is famous for this), emotional benefits (I am driving a Tata car!), and AFFORDABILITY!

All these factors are common to many mass brands - the brand ought to have quality; the brand should bond with the target audience - after all, this is the most important competitive edge: brands that are hi-tech can be beaten with technology, brands with the price advantage can be undercut; but the BRANDS WITH EMOTIONAL BONDING AND BENEFITS HAVE SUSTAINABLE COMPETITIVE EDGE. And when brands with quality, and emotional benefits, become affordable, they become MASS BRANDS. This is the advantage with the Tata Nano.



Jan Aushadi if marketed right, has the chance of becoming the Tata Nano type pharma retailer. In fact, if marketed right, the Jan Aushadi concept has the potential to become a BENCHMARK for the world.

So what should it do? First, aim to produce a tangible and measurable health output - any business activity is not worth it, if it does not have measurable outputs. Every marketing campaign that involves market spend, too has measures attached to the activity. The market spend has to be justified after all.

Jan Aushadi marketers should aim to measure the impact of
value-for-money products from Jan Aushadi generic drug outlets. This can be done by measuring the:

*improved health outcomes
*better patient compliance
*improved patient outcomes
*improved health standards of the community served by the Jan Aushadi outlet.

To ensure that it happens, the Jan Aushadi outlets ought to be opened in the less prosperous districts of India - like say, in Orissa, in the urban slums, interior districts etc. This is where Jan Aushadi's products will make a dramatic and measurable difference in health outcomes and thereby Jan Aushadi will earn a lot of blessings from society.


No organization can survive or thrive in the modern age without marketing activity! Hence, the first thing the Jan Aushadi people ought to do (which I bet they would not have done), is to have a promotional fund (for funding marketing communication activity). Without that the concept will surely not take off! Next have a detailed monthwise marketing plan - only a financial plan will not do. Remember success is not guaranteed just because the product is cheap. MARKETING IS A GAME OF CONFIDENCE. Winning the confidence of the target audience is the key to marketing success.

For successful marketing hype of the Jan Aushadi concept, three talking points are vital:


Marketing outcomes based on the above three parameters ought to be measured. Only then will the Jan Aushadi concept really take off and SET A NEW BENCHMARK FOR THE WORLD. Or else it will languish as one more well intentioned scheme of the Govt. of India.

No business venture can survive without profits and measurable marketing outcomes! The platform for marketing communication activity for Jan Aushadi concept, ought to be quality (REMEMBER IN INDIA, IF SOMETHING IS VERY CHEAP IT IS OFTEN CONSIDERED TO BE OF SUBSTANDARD QUALITY), emotional benefits (eg., patient compliance due to affordability has made families healthier, THE EMOTIONAL CONNECT OF BRANDS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! Click here!!), and affordability (this is the WOW FACTOR of the Jan Aushadi generic retailer concept). This way, unless the Jan Aushadi generic drug store concept gives rise to a FEEL GOOD factor among all stakeholders (including drug suppliers), success may not kiss it. It will be seen as something done to gain publicity mileage.

Today, Jan Aushadi concept has got free media space and publicity as it is very relevant to Indian healthcare needs. But will the concept really take off ? Let us wait and see.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

GM foods are special medical foods/drugs

I got the above very creative image from here.

'GM foods' is an exciting topic. There are three viewpoints on GM foods- (a) I do not have a clear idea (b) I am against GM foods, and (c) I support GM foods!!

Mention GM (genetically modified) foods and there are intense passions either for this concept or against the idea. Mahesh Bhatt, a famous Hindi filmmaker is making a film on the possible hazards of GM foods. Baba Ramdev of Patanjali Yog Peeth is questioning the need for GM foods. HE prefers alternative farming practices to provide food for the masses.

For a scientist, 'GM foods' are exciting. GM foods appear to have the potential to revolutionize the food market. Drought and pest resistant plants, rice with superior traits - like increased content of beta-carotene (Golden Rice), tomatoes that spoil very slowly ... the magic potential of GM concept is very alluring. However, in the world of unknown there are potential problem areas too.

We do not know what other effects genetic modification of plants can have. It may trigger off unknown allergies. The GM food may compromise immunity and make a person susceptible to viral disease like swine flu (Influenza A H1N1). The introduced gene may mutate to produce some undesirable effects on consumption. A GM tomato is genetically different from a regular tomato. I may take the risk to consume it ... however, when it comes to preparing a dish from the GM tomato for my daughter or son ... well, I will certainly avoid using the GM tomato.

THE COMMERCIAL AND SOCIAL INTEREST ON GM FOODS IS THAT THEY HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO SOLVE THE WORLD'S PROBLEM OF HUNGER AND MALNUTRITION. Special GM foods can potentially deliver vaccines (edible fruits as vaccines - containing attenuated or inactivated antigens or antigenic genetic material).

GM foods are mainly plant derived: soyabean, corn, etc. However, pigs are experimentally being used to produce omega (3) fatty acids.

Why are marketers interested in GM foods?

Marketers are there for increasing consumption, market share, sales, and profits - making more money. They are also there to ensure customer delight - ie., the customers should not feel conned or obliged or coerced in to parting with his cash, he should consume the marketed product or service, and very delightedly part with his or her cash! That is the basic intension of every marketer.

Seed companies love GM foods. If the farmer wants to grow the GM plants, he has to purchase seeds from the marketer, and nobody else. So the seed marketer can control the market. GM seeds help the seed marketer make more money and ensure a customer base. It is like subscribing to a mobile phone service from Reliance or Tata Indicom, you cannot change the service provider unless you change the handphone; in the case of Airtel or BSNL, you can change the service provider, without changing your favorite mobile handphone - just change the SIM card.


So how to market GM foods? After all, there could be potential benefits. Prejudice should not prevent the marketers' noble intent to provide better and better products and services for the larger good of society (and make more money). So a free and fair marketing solution for the GM foods concept is needed.


Pharma marketing is based on PRECLINICAL AND CLINICAL TRIALS, documentation, postmarketing surveillance studies (Phase 4), ADR (adverse drug reaction) surveillance (ie., pharmacovigilance), creating a detailed product monograph, MARKETING THE DRUG THROUGH LEARNED OPINION BUILDERS (DOCTORS/PHARMACISTS), being in regular touch with the doctors and pharmacists, CMEs (continuing medical education programs), seminars, updates etc. Hence, we observe pharma marketing is very technical, regulated, monitored, data heavy, communication savvy, and RESPONSIBLE.

This marketing plan is a good approach for GM FOODS too.

Firstly, it should take atleast 20 years of intensive preclinical and clinical study of the GM food candidate to enter in to the market. The marketing process for GM foods should be regulated and on the pharma marketing model and not on consumer marketing model. GM foods are too sensitive for mass marketing.


Subsequently, for GM foods, a good postmarketing surveillance system should be in place. Doctors and pharmacists should be the certified opinion builders for GM foods. This means GM food marketers should call on doctors and pharmacists regularly as medical representatives do, provide updates and other promo inputs. Consumers should be encouraged to take the advice of doctors before making a GM food purchase. GM foods should be sampled to doctors, and they should try them on patients. Data feedback should be collected
regularly from doctors. In essence, GM foods should be marketed like pharmaceuticals. There are important reasons for this - too much of Vitamin A can cause hypervitaminosis (it could cause birth defects), increased intake of beta carotene by smokers can possibly make the person susceptible to cancer; there are many such delicate matters. Allergies, viral outbreaks etc may be fostered by GM foods. So it requires a qualified doctor to advice consumption of GM foods.


It is important to generate confidence. If people fearlessly take pharmaceuticals for specific conditions it is because the drug is backed by a prescription and years of clinical and postmarketing study. GM food marketers need to generate such a body of data to win confidence of potential consumers. Moreover, when edible vaccine fruits are being planned - then these GM foods surely need to be marketed typically like pharmaceuticals.

NOW THE IMPORTANT QUESTION - should GM foods be sold only on the prescription of a doctor?

Well, it depends on the GM food. If it is an edible vaccine fruit, certainly yes. If it is a GM food with heavy concentration of vitamins and minerals, then again yes. GM FOODS SHOULD BE OF TWO TYPES - PRESCRIPTION ONLY, AND OVER-THE-COUNTER CUM PRESCRIPTION. The first-type are sold against prescriptions only. The second type should necessarily be promoted to doctors and pharmacists, but can be purchased by consumers without prescriptions.


The 'serious' GM foods like edible vaccine fruits should be sold only at pharmacies; other GM foods may be sold at nonpharmacies ONLY AFTER 5 YEARS OF EXCLUSIVE MARKETING AT PHARMACIES.

THE MAIN ADVANTAGE OF THIS MARKETING APPROACH IS ASSURING CONSUMERS OF SAFETY, PURITY, AND EFFICACY which is what pharmaceutical marketers do by marketing pharma products through doctors and pharmacies.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

The game of relevance

The invention of the tank transformed 'war'. The military tank succeeded because it is a highly relevant equipment to penetrate enemy lines and win wars.

Business people play a game - it is called the game of relevance. All marketers are endeavoring to provide value that is most relevant to the prospect or customer. By this marketers try to delight customers with their value offerings and do profitable business. The game of relevance is played by all hierarchies of employees. The front-line pharma marketers want to offer promotional inputs of high relevance to influencers (doctors) and chemists, thereby generate prescriptions and sales. The strategists, product portfolio managers, and those providing promo inputs too want their outputs to be highly relevant to the target audience, thereby influencing the sales picture positively. Every moment in the marketing battle is won only by those who are the most relevant to the doctor or chemist at that moment.

So how is each pharma marketer trying to outdo the other in trying to be the most relevant in the market?

Being contemporary: is the most important approach to being relevant. When marketing communication gets jaded and appears out-dated, products and services start lowering themselves in the relevance index of the customers.

Being regular: is important for being relevant. When pharma marketers are regular with their communication inputs and calls on target doctors and chemists, the product or service is perceived as relevant.

Proper product portfolio: Products are the bread and butter of any organization. Pharma companies are investing heavily in R & D, or otherwise trying to offer the most relevant product range to the target doctors and chemists.

If Biocon is betting heavy this year on biogenerics, it is because of the relevance of quality & value-for-money biogenerics in the global regulated markets. If some brands have hit a gold-mine then it is due to some sharp essence of relevance. Levonorgestrol (emergency contraceptive) brands like Unwanted 72 and I-pill have hit a gold mine in the market - the patient can take the tablet by herself, her privacy is respected, and it is easy. Empowering products are usually very relevant to the target customers, and are winners in the marketplace. Emergency contraceptives are empowering, they give a sense of control to the healthcare consumers. Hence, market intelligence is best appreciated when it provides reliable inputs to make decisions that helps a company become more relevant in the market. The need for relevance has forced pharma companies like Biocon to look at the biogenerics range, and global Big Pharma to invest in biogenerics.

Google is on a winning track because they offer products of high relevance to netizens. The search engine is very relevant and empowering to netizens - hence, it is a winner. Google Chrome has combined search property and internet launching ability. Hence, it is very relevant.

Social media and social networking sites are successful because of their relevance - they help people link with each other and express their thoughts in a never-before fashion. Relevance is verily the key to success in the marketplace.

Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) is an interesting drug. Its relevance comes with every influenza pandemic! The latest to give worldwide chills is SIV (Swine Influenza Virus) or Influenza A H1N1. Roche is getting chills for another reason - the Govt. of India says it is OK to manufacture and market generic oseltamivir by Indian pharma biggies like Cipla and Hetero Drugs, as there is no patent infringement.

Aligning with disease trends, and other needs or market requirement is crucial.

Marketers are forever in search of hidden needs, and other market requirements. When, the electrolyte energy drinks gained favor of prescribers, it was because the product fulfilled a hidden need of prescribers and patients for a tasty, ready-to-drink, safe, and hydrating electrolyte energy drink. If pranayama-Yoga is catching on infectiously in the Indian society and diaspora, it is because it fulfils a need for a health boosting lifestyle option. Successful marketers are forever looking to allign their product portfolio and promotional activities in line with the market trends (present and future).

Medical foods is an interesting trend - thanks to the media that has encouraged positive preventive healthcare lifestyle. Medical foods are special foods that are targeted to specific disease conditions like say, diabetes (foods with out sucrose), or hypertension (foods with low salt) etc. The increased health consciousness, extended life span, and the higher incidence of chronic diseases, have all lead to the phenomenon of medical foods. The need for recommending medical foods is also felt by prescribers. Hence, pharma and healthcare marketers are trying to become relevant to their target audiences through medical foods.

In the end, it is apparent that RELEVANCE is the name of the game in marketing. As long as each activity of the company is focused on being relevant to the market needs (present and future), the organization will be on a high - or else, it will be in a trough.

During recession, the challenge for marketers is tailor making the product or service so that it is relevant to the present times.

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