Sampling and doctors meetings compete for the largest secondary promotional spending component, behind detailing, in the BRIC countries.

According to Cegedim Relationship Management (Bedminster, NJ), emerging markets represented 5% of pharma profits in 2005; in 2011, they will have made up 20-30% of profits. That statistic alone demonstrates the heightened focus on dealing with emerging markets, particularly the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). But, as Cegedim points out in a just-published white paper, “the healthcare situation and pharmaceutical market of each is shifting [and as] regulations tighten, formerly effective strategies must be rethought.”

Given that each country varies dramatically by size and population, variations can be expected. But just the promotional spend in 2011 is illuminating: Brazil, $4.4 billion, up 8.4% over 2010); Russia ($205 million, down 7.7%); India, $63.6 million, up 13.3%; China, $1.4 billion (no 2010 figure). In all these countries, promotional spending is highly concentrated on rep detailing, representing 88% of India’s promotional spend, and 75.9% of Brazil’s. But whereas 16.8% of Brazil’s spending was devoted to sampling, only 5% of India’s was, and 1-2% for Russia and China. On the other hand, 16% of China&rquo;s promotional spending went to doctor meetings, as well as 11% of Russia’s, with the other countries representing much smaller proportions.

China is already the world’s third largest pharma market, representing approximately $50 billion in sales. Cegedim notes that the country is in the last year of a three-year program to significantly upgrade its healthcare system, and a National Development and Reform Commission might be changing or stopping the differential pricing allowed for overseas makers of branded generics to charge more for them. (The country, like India, is investing heavily in becoming a pharma manufacturer as well.)

Other tips for looking at the BRIC countries (quoting directly from the white paper):

–In Brazil, stay on good terms with large drug distributors and physicians, but also seek to capture the increasingly strong out-of-pocket market and reimbursement-based segment. With these price-sensitive consumers, success is more likely to come to companies who emphasize the value behind their brand.

–In Russia, be prepared to work with the government initiative Pharma 2020, whose goal is to have at least 50% of drugs made in Russia and 25% made by a Russian company. Be ready to compensate for sales reps having less access to doctors, and to work within the boundaries of tightening rules on drug pricing and promotion, and the fact that most new drugs on the market will come from local manufacturers.

–In India, consider focusing on a handful of states rather than attempting to cover the whole nation. Partner with local companies to tap into intellectual talent and a more affordable workforce, and to benefit from their already established presence in the distribution and manufacturing networks.

In all of these countries, there will be a constant tug-of-war over intellectual property rights. The white paper will be available at

From Pharmaceutical Commerce, May 29, 2012