Decision-making by physicians on patients’ treatment has come under increased public scrutiny. In fact, there is a fair amount of debate on the effects of marketing actions of pharmaceutical firms toward physicians and their impact on physician prescription behavior. While 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. The authors argue that one factor that may tip the balance in this debate is the role of drug characteristics, such as a drug’s effectiveness and a drug’s side effects. Using a unique data set, they show that marketing efforts – operationalized as detailing and symposium meetings of firms to physicians – and patient requests do affect physician decision-making differentially across brands. Moreover they find that the responsiveness of physicians’ decision-making to marketing efforts and patient requests depends upon the drug’s effectiveness and side effects. The paper presents clear guidelines for public policy and managerial practice and envisions that the study of the role of drug characteristics – such as effectiveness and side effects – may lead to valuable insights in this surging public debate.

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Erasmus Research Institute of Management
ERIM Report Series Research in Management
ERIM report series research in management Erasmus Research Institute of Management
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Venkataraman, S., & Stremersch, S. (2007). The Debate on Influencing Doctors’ Decisions: Are Drug Characteristics the Missing Link? (No. ERS-2007-056-MKT). ERIM report series research in management Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Retrieved from