Pharma is becoming mainstream in times of COVID-19 crisis

As India begins its lockdown exit strategy with easing of restrictions in a phased manner, the pharma industry is pulling out all stops to ensure that the production of medicines and essentials to fight the COVID-19 pandemic continues without much hindrance. In an unprecedented move, all major companies have come together to help one another with knowledge and sharing of resources. The industry will be facing new challenges once the lockdown is lifted.

There will be several behavioural changes – both at the doctor level and the patient level. New approach will have to be adopted to adapt to the changing situation and digital will play a vital role. To get some broad industry perspective and some possible roadmap as to how the industry should foresee the future experts from the industry participated in a special Webinar, part of the Strategic Move Series brought by Adgully.

In his opening remarks, Shashin Bodawala, who moderated the session started off with his opening remark saying that the pharma industry has been in the news ever since Covid-19 happened. The last few weeks even the stock market has also been a been kind to the pharma industry. However, on the outside, like others there was large impact for the entire health care sector, which included the doctors, patients, and the entire supply chain, especially the retail chemists, E-pharmacy and the entire field force who have been working from home. Several pharma companies have been working and planning the business continuity plans to address all the immediate and distant concerns to tackle the new normal which is still not clear and is fuzzy among many experts and leaders from the industry.

Several views were expressed by the experts. The discussion opened with what could be the new normal and what kind of behavioural changes one would expect, more specifically from doctors. Sharing his views, Salil Kallianpur said, “Pharma has a great opportunity to create value. I think a large behavioural shift has happened with doctors and they have quickly pivoted the business models. Doctors who had earlier not adapted to digital tools, given the current situation, they now have been showing the ability to work their business models very nicely and many of them have moved to online consulting. When it comes to patient I think one large behavioural shift that has happened is that the patients have understood the beauty of do-it-yourself healthcare, especially in the case of chronic illness and that they can remotely access the doctors and I see a huge tectonic shift in the way. As we go further, the patient will slowly embrace the digital way of consulting and getting treated by the doctors.”

According to Sangeeta Barde, “We could see a lot of customisation happening with the doctors. I would like to say that pharma is becoming mainstream and change in the behaviour of doctors is going to happen here onwards and if more doctors are available online, then as marketers it will be difficult as the doctors won’t be able to meet the patients. But there is a data available of patients and doctors and you can identify the target group and customise things accordingly. One cannot fight this alone and you will need a good team work to make this happen, especially from the pharma brands.”

Having created some interesting digital work in the pharma space by his agency, Medulla Communications, the importance of ROI was shared by Praful Akali. Narrating his experience, Akali said, “With digital, you can measure ROI. What’s more one can measure it far better than what we had few years back. In fact, I love to use digital as a market research tool and leverage it to the maximum. So, measurability is going to be big on digital along with KPI, which will help us know how people click through and engage their conversation. In the long term, you can see and demonstrate ROI to any one whom you need to. While there will huge shift towards digital both among doctors and the pharma brands but at the same there will be challenges to implement the same.”


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