Pharmaceutical firms are increasingly turning their marketing force into teams of specialists, because a generalist medical representative may find it tough to explain to a doctor the complex and high-margin drugs they are pushing.
Pfizer, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Abbott, Dr Reddy's Laboratories, Cipla, Lupin, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Mankind Pharma, Torrent Pharmaceuticals, Ipca Laboratories and Hetero Drugs are all hiring management and pharmacy graduates as marketing executives and are paying hefty salaries, say industry executives and analysts.
The top 20 companies control at least 40% of the total market and they are in the forefront to recruit specialists. Lupin is one of the pioneers in hiring management graduates and domain experts for sales. More than 80% of its sales force of 4,700 are specialists.
While large pharma companies have hired thousands of management graduates, who account for more than half their sales force, specialist salesmen form less than a third of the teams at many medium firms. Of India's more than six lakh medical representatives, specialists with management education qualifications account for a little over a sixth.
"There is tough competition among domestic and multinational drug makers operating in the Indian market now, which is forcing many to look at hiring specialists like management graduates from top institutes to aggressively push the brands," said Hetero Drugs marketing director M Srinivas Reddy. "Many pharma companies are looking at creating specialist marketing arms with management graduates and domain experts like post-graduates in pharmacy."
Kameshwar Rao of FMRA viewed that the trend of hiring more specialists and management graduates to sell medicines could hurt the financials of small and medium firms that cannot afford heavy overheads.