Successful marketing is defined differently in different contexts. To understand its effect, researchers must consider all the factors that influence consumer choice, not just the marketing effort.
A recent story in the national business press reported on research that found physicians were influenced to prescribe branded drugs with small gifts provided by a pharmaceutical company. Gifts, such as $20 meals as part of a promotional event, were associated with increased prescriptions of branded drugs relative to generic alternatives.
The study questions the notion that visits by sales representatives are purely educational. The researchers argue that gifts improperly influence medical decisions and inflate drug costs.
Industry representatives counter that they don’t “pay to prescribe” and that they educate doctors about the latest treatments and appropriate uses of new medicines.