An Empirical Note on Perceptions of Patients and Physicians in Direct-to-Consumer Promotion of Pharmaceutical Products: Study of Indian Patients and Physicians

An Empirical Note on Perceptions of Patients and Physicians in Direct-to-Consumer Promotion of Pharmaceutical Products: Study of Indian Patients and Physicians

Ajeya Jha (Sikkim Manipal University, India), Jaya Rani Pandey (Sikkim Manipal University, India) and Samrat Kumar Mukherjee (Sikkim Manipal University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4056-4.ch004

Abstract

Direct promotion of pharmaceutical products to patients is not legal in India. Internet healthcare websites, however, have rendered this law as merely a paper-feast. Patients today increasingly flock to websites to find health related information, including those related to drugs. This paper attempts to identify the differences in the perception of physicians and patients in this context. This is an important issue as differences in perception may result in newer conflict-points between patients and physicians. The study is based on a survey involving 400 patients and 200 physicians. The results indicate that major differences exist in the beliefs held by physicians' and patients' vis-à-vis merits and demerits of DTC-promotion through online-health related websites. As patients and physicians operate as a team while health-solutions are made available to the patients, such major differences in their beliefs regarding the merits and demerits of DTC-promotion may result in emergence of fault-lines in their relationship.
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Review Of Literature

There is a great discussion that direct marketing of the prescription drugs can be both harmful as well as beneficial for the customers. Many studies have been conducted in this regard. At one side many researchers in USA consider it as a valuable source of information but there are many who argue that it is potentially harmful for the customers. Auton (2004) argue that DTC advertising enriches customers by providing information about health problems, treatment options and medical advances. Peytrotetal (1998) and O’Brien Anne (2008) found that branded DTC ads which clearly address the patient’s need are very few. He also argues that patients are more involved in DTC and are willing to discuss it with physicians. Robinson et.al (2004) stated that advertisement for a pharmaceutical product raises serious ethical concerns. They underrate risk, target the emotions of the patients and it is also adversely affecting the patient – physician relationship. Scott Ehrlich found that Caduet, Crestor and Lipitor were among the few that used an on-screen personality to deliver the risk information. Scott analyzed that a closer look at broadcast DTC ads reveals that marketers are taking very different approaches to presenting details on risks and benefits. Christopher M. Schroeder (2010) outlined that Consumers are taking charge of their healthcare like never before. They are doing more research before a doctor visit, more closely monitoring their doctor’s recommendations and consulting with friends and family to validate their decisions. Jha (2005) suggested that DTC is an important variable in pharmaceutical marketing in Indian perspective.

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