MDs' reactions to pharma marketing influenced by brand, side effects: Management Insights

December 10, 2007

A study of pharmaceutical companies' marketing to physicians shows that doctors are most influenced by brand preference and marketing that addresses the problems of drugs with many side effects, according to the Management Insights feature in the current issue of Management Science, the flagship journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

Management Insights, a regular feature of the journal, is a digest of important research in business, management, operations research, and management science. It appears in every issue of the monthly journal.

"The Debate on Influencing Doctors' Decisions: Are Drug Characteristics the Missing Link?" is by Sriram Venkataraman of Emory University and Stefan Stremersch of Duke University.

Decision making by physicians on patients' treatment has come under increased public scrutiny, with debate on the effects of marketing actions of pharmaceutical firms toward physicians and their impact on physician prescription behavior. Some scholars find a strong and positive influence of marketing actions, some find only moderate effects, and others even find negative effects.

Debate is also mounting on the role of other influencers (such as patient requests) in physician decision making, both on prescriptions and sample dispensing.

In their Management Science paper, Venkataraman and Stremersch argue that one factor that may tip the balance in this debate is the role of drug characteristics, such as a drug's effectiveness and a drug's side effects. Using a unique data set, they show that marketing efforts--operationalized as detailing and symposium meetings of firms to physicians--and patient requests do affect physician decision making differentially across brands.

They also find that the responsiveness of physicians' decision making to marketing efforts and patient requests depends upon the drug's effectiveness and side effects.

The current issue of Management Insights is available at http://mansci.journal.informs.org/cgi/reprint/53/11/iv. The full papers associated with the Insights are available to Management Science subscribers. Individual papers can be purchased at http://institutions.informs.org. Additional issues of Management Insights can be accessed at http://mansci.pubs/informs/org/.

The Insights in the current issue are:
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INFORMS journals are strongly cited in Journal Citation Reports, an industry source. In the JCR subject category "operations research and management science," Management Science ranked in the top 10 along with two other INFORMS journals.

The special MBA issue published by Business Week includes Management Science and two other INFORMS journals in its list of 20 top academic journals that are used to evaluate business school programs. Financial Times includes Management Science and four other INFORMS journals in its list of academic journals used to evaluate MBA programs.

About INFORMS

The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®) is an international scientific society with 10,000 members, including Nobel Prize laureates, dedicated to applying scientific methods to help improve decision-making, management, and operations. Members of INFORMS work in business, government, and academia. They are represented in fields as diverse as airlines, health care, law enforcement, the military, financial engineering, and telecommunications. The INFORMS website is www.informs.org. More information about operations research is at www.scienceofbetter.org.

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

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