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

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 drugs effectiveness and a drugs side effects. Using a unique data set, they show that marketing effortsoperationalized as detailing and symposium meetings of firms to physiciansand 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 drugs effectiveness and side effects.

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

The Insights in the current issue are:

  • Managerial Turnover and Strategic Change by Dirk Sliwka
  • Choosing Among Living-Donor and Cadaveric Livers by Oguzhan Alagoz, Lisa M. Maillart, Andrew J. Schaefer, Mark S. Roberts
  • Template Use and the Effectiveness of Knowledge Transfer by Robert J. Jensen, Gabriel Szulanski
  • Coherence and Consistency of Investors Probability Judgments by David V. Budescu, Ning Du
  • Probability Elicitation, Scoring Rules, and Competition Among Forecasters by Kenneth C. Lichtendahl Jr., Robert L. Winkler
  • Simulation of Coherent Risk Measures Based on Generalized Scenarios by Vadim Lesnevski, Barry L. Nelson, Jeremy Staum
  • The Effects of Statistical Information on Risk and Ambiguity Attitudes, and on Rational Insurance Decisions by Peter P. Wakker, Danille R. M. Timmermans, Irma Machielse
  • Final-Offer Arbitration and Risk Aversion in Bargaining by Eran Hanany, D. Marc Kilgour, Yigal Gerchak
  • Convertible Bond Underpricing: Renegotiable Covenants, Seasoning, and Convergence by Alex W. H. Chan, Nai-fu Chen
  • Optimal Feature Advertising Design Under Competitive Clutter by Rik Pieters, Michel Wedel, Jie Zhang


Contact: Barry List
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

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