Pharma adapts strategies for emerging markets

LONDON: Pharma companies are reformulating their global comms approaches because of predicted growth in emerging markets.

LONDON: Pharma companies are reformulating their global comms approaches because of predicted growth in emerging markets.

According to IMS Health, projections for pharma spending in markets such as India, China, and Eastern Europe are set to double by 2016, leading pharma companies to “beef up their strategy,” according to sources.

A consultation with 10 pharma companies including Janssen, Shire Pharmaceuticals, and Caris Lifesciences by Just::Health has found drugs are being launched in emerging markets before the traditional markets of the US and Europe, where growth and innovation may be slower.

Just::Health director Julia Kirby said the pharma comms chiefs consulted were considering replacing “traditional geographic groupings [such as Europe or Latin America] with groupings based on strategic priorities, such as regulatory status or cultural attitudes towards particular therapy areas.”

Esra Erkal-Paler, AstraZeneca head of global media relations, admitted comms for emerging markets was a key issue because “fundamental drivers of growth remain strong” in these markets.

She said: “We recognize that the ‘emerging markets' definition includes a diverse range of countries whose key unifying characteristic is a growing economy, and therefore one size does not fit all. We are conscious of the need to adapt our comms approach to best suit the local environment and business needs.”

As an example, she said there could be more of a focus on corporate reputation in emerging markets. 

She explained: “It depends on the local healthcare environment such as whether it was a customer pay market or whether it's more of a healthcare system. In some emerging markets such as Mexico where patients are direct consumers because they are paying for their medicine, our corporate reputation is very important because customers are taking decisions about which drugs to buy based on that.”

AstraZeneca dedicated 47% of its global sales and marketing workforce to emerging markets in 2011 as opposed to 16% in 2002, despite planning to cut 7,300 jobs over the next three years.

For more UK-focused PR news, visit PRWeek UK.

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