Pharma companies lag in digital journey against global counterparts


MUMBAI: Indian pharmaceutical companies lag behind in their digital journey as compared to their global counterparts, according to a industry report. 

Global advisory firm, EY today launched its latest report - 'Reinventing pharma sales and marketing through digital in India', complied based on discussions with over 15 leading pharmaceutical companies and hospital chains in India. 

It focuses on their digital readiness and sales and marketing plans. 

EY's Digital maturity Index (EYDI), a five-step digital maturity framework, showed that Indian pharmaceutical companies lag behind in their digital journey when compared to their global counterparts. 

The five stages of digital maturity are beginners, conservative, explorers, practitioners and disruptors. 

Of the surveyed companies, nearly 53 per cent are still in the "beginners" stage while 40 per cent are in the "conservative" stage, and 7 per cent have moved toward the "explorers'" stage. 

On the other hand, companies globally are now rapidly moving towards being "digital practitioners." 

Analysis of the data and insights from EYDI and industry discussions respectively, revealed that for 80 per cent of the companies, digital is still not central to their business strategy and 93 per cent are still focusing on stand-alone efforts that lack strategic context. 

"The pharmaceutical industry is currently in a 'perfect storm' given pricing pressures and demands not just from the domestic market but also on the global front as well as supply side pressures," EY Global Life Sciences Emerging Markets & Generics Leader Sriram Shrinivasan said. 

There is a need to move away from the traditional 'increase feet on street' strategy to multiple touch points across digital platforms, he said. 

Commenting on the findings, Hitesh Sharma, India Life Sciences Leader and Tax Partner, EY said, "There are several myths among pharma companies in India around digitisation. In reality, the forerunners are using digital effectively to capture untapped and unstructured data, making their decision more agile and robust, while staying within the realms of regulatory boundaries." 

Successful pharmaceutical players are making people their strength, by "selling" the concept to medical representative and involving them early in the digitisation process, added Sriram.