In the pharmaceutical industry, PCD refers to propaganda and cum distribution. A PCD franchise, hence, becomes an important part of the marketing of pharma products. In India, PCD firms play an important role in the marketing of pharma medicine, sometimes vital to the parent company’s success.
In fact, a PCD pharma franchise is often faced with tough challenges in the Indian market. The increasing competition has made their job tougher. For a parent company, a PCD pharma has become an essential organ, vital to maintain its spread and keep up its distribution network.
Some of the unique challenges facing PCD franchises are:
No one can deny that the Indian pharma sector has had a dream run in the last decade. But all indications show that this dream run could be slowing down. Increasing competition in the domestic and international sectors are squeezing revenues and margins. In the domestic market the small firms are slowly eating up a major portion of the pie. Internationally too the increase in competition is taking up the market. This extends from the US (still a major source of revenue) to other less developed countries. The advance of China in the same sector is another source of worry, since Chinese firms are very good at ensuring low costs.
Poor customer strategies
Historically the pharma sector has suffered from poor customer retention strategies. Usually this is because there is a confusion over who is the customer, the doctor who must endorse your product or the end user who will be using the medicine. In most cases PCD companies focus on the doctors and not the end user. But it is not just these two demographics, pharma companies must also cater to the retailers and wholesalers.
High attrition rate of medical representatives
Medical representatives have to be charismatic salespeople. Although like other salespeople their jobs may essentially deal with propaganda and sale, unlike other salespeople their demographic is highly educated and experts in their field – doctors. In this field a medical representative is charged with convincing these experts to prescribe their product.
The problem they face here is the scepticism of the doctors and their reluctance to assign time for medical representatives. Unfortunately, finding such a charismatic medical representatives is not an easy task. Additionally, this profession sees a high attrition rate. Either they leave before they can gain the requisite experience or the investment that goes into their training is lost.
Sales forecasts in this field are usually not very reliable. This is again because true end user’s demographic has rarely been explored. Most sales figures are culled from retailers and wholesalers who often give uninformed or insufficient data. This effects the inventory and supply of the drugs.
Difficulty in getting new drug approval
Indian laws focus on the process instead of the product when granting patents. While this is essential in a country where expensive medication could be death knell for many people, it does make patent for newer drugs much harder to get. This has also been a major bone of contention between big firms and the Indian system. The patent law makes it harder for them to sell their high-priced drugs in India. This has also affected the involvement of these companies in Indian markets.
Lack of focus on R&D
As mentioned above, the increasing competition in the pharma sector is slowly beginning to squeeze out the Indian firms. To counter this, the future must be focused on increased innovations and diversifying the products offered. Unfortunately, Indian firms are still stuck in creating generic drugs and not focusing on R&D. As international firms consolidate, this approach could turn out to be an expensive mistake!
Despite tightening norms and regulations, the US is still the biggest market for the Indian pharma sector. This is why the increasing scrutiny by US authorities is proving to be too tough to handle. The WTO has also enforced its ambit, forcing many Indian firms to play ball. As a consequence, quality issues have severely affected the pharma sector, including the PCD pharma franchise.
After a tremendous run, the Indian pharma sector is faced with a slowdown. PCD pharma franchises must now understand the challenges they are facing and work to overcome these.