Pharmaceutical marketing has been defined as any activity in the pharmaceutical industry that includes advertising, detailing, freebies and sponsoring of conferences and symposia by a drug company that is intended to promote the sales of is products. (medical dictionary). Pharmaceutical marketing is governed by ethics code that sets “standard for the ethical marketing and promotion of prescription products directed to the healthcare professions”. (Kintanar and Teehankee) Ethos of pharmaceutical marketing should subscribe to the independence of healthcare professionals that means they should exercise impartiality in medical judgment. This means absence of conflict of interest, whether potential, actual or apparent.
Cousin’s study that used interviews highlighted three marketing practices that are influential on the prescribing behavior of physicians. First, physicians were found to be influenced by marketing representatives through their direct marketing and detailing. By example, physicians are influenced by sales representatives who visit them to promote their product. Second, is by the sponsorship or training as a form of continued medical events as earlier discussed. Third, is the effect of the direct-to –customer advertising having on patients....
Accordingly, 28% of marketers used distribution of samples, 36% practices detailing, direct to customer approach (DTCA) 7%, holding of meetings, 3%, journals, unmonitored 25%, and e-commerce 0%. Chart 1. Segmentation of marketing practices Hashley detailed in his study that samples constitute a large expense in pharmaceutical marketing. Samples go hand in hand with detailing as these are used by the sales force when they visit their clients. Chart 1 shows the segmentation of marketing practices in the industry and its corresponding activities as prepared by Hashley. These practices continue to be the norms in pharmaceutical groups and are called traditional marketing. Braun Group stated that the traditional strategies in promoting products are giving drugs as free samples to doctors, providing details of their products through journal articles or opinion leaders. It is also customary upon pharmaceutical companies to give gifts with company logo or details of its products. Pharmaceutical companies also spend on continued medical education by sponsoring seminars. Braun in his assessment saw the need for new pharmaceutical strategies because of change of lifestyle and consumer behavior such as use of internet and digital media Holding of meetings Holding meetings, or in pharmaceutical parlance, the “continuing medical education” has been discussed in the study of Cousins (2003) wherein he described the forum as unethical procedure. Cousins argued that CME is one of the contested marketing strategies because when the pharmaceutical company sponsors an event, it serves like a commercial endorsement of their products rather than support to medical education. In this, he commented that what is supposed to be an educational forum becomes a pharmaceutical