Firstly, let us understand what is Market Research. It is basically qualitative and quantitative determination and assessment of a market.

A pharmaceutical industry deals with the research and development and eventually marketing of drugs which can be branded or generic. Market research plays an important part in the process since pharma products usually cannot sell themselves.

The key players in a pharmaceutical industry are: Health Care Professionals (HCP’s), wholesalers/distributors, pharmacies/chemists and medical sales representatives.

The most commonly followed process includes- Medical sales representatives give calls to HCP’s and promote their products. Based on Dr’s feedback he/she may recommend the product to the patients. Parallelly, the products are made available to the central warehouse from the manufacturer via Clearing and Forwarding unit (CnF), then to the stockist and sub stockist and finally to the hospitals or retailers. This makes sure that the products are available for patients use.

Stages of Market Research


Types of Market Research in Pharmaceutical Industries


  1. Hospital Purchases: Here the hospital pharmacies directly purchase pharmaceutical products from the company.Research involves measuring the Purchase Orders (PO’s) from the hospital pharmacies and outflow of Over the Counter (OTC)/prescription products from the pharmacy to the patients.
  1. Physician Panels: Physicians here, share their opinions on medical updates and take interviews or surveys to ensure right decisions are taken pertaining to patient care and health policies.
  1. Warehouse Withdrawals: Each Medical Sales Representative is assigned a territory comprising potential Drs and a Ship-to-Code and Sell-to-Code stockist/distributor from where the orders are given to the company depot. Research can be used to track the inflow and outflow of stock keeping units (SKU’s) both ways.
  1. Promotional Media: To gauge the impact of communication tools used by sales representatives. Market Research is used to track the HCP visits made using the detailing guides, promotional inputs, samples and monitor the change in prescription habit.
  1. Retail Pharmacy sales/purchases: In this type, there is a need to measure the influx of products from the wholesaler/distributor to the retail store/chemist and the outflow to the consumers. The details are procured to obtain data of OTC/prescription products off-take.
  1. Retail Pharmacy Prescriptions: Sales Force Effectiveness measurement. Tracking prescriptions gives a very clear picture of SKU wise product performance and to understand the degree of message conveyance to the prescribers and consumers.

Measuring the effectiveness of performance at each level will give a complete understanding of opportunities in the market place, guides in planning and building communication for existing and potential customers.

To sum it up, market research for a pharmaceutical industry can provide in depth information to managers to make appropriate decisions regarding the industry.

Riti Jugat

PGPMR 2017-2018

Northpoint Centre of Learning