Research Outline

Physician Respondent Overstatement


To determine the rate of overstatement in pharmaceutical market research when stating they will prescribe a new drug for specialists and generalists, by locating 3 or more academic research papers or industry articles.

Early Findings

Overstatement in Pharmaceutical Market Research

  • Primary market research for pharmaceutical most often paints an inaccurate picture.
  • Discrepancy between preference share (the market share that primary market research estimates) and actual market share is often 50% or higher.
  • Pharma Voice states in a white paper that nine out of 10 forecasts for newly launched brands differ from the in-market results by at least plus or minus 30%.
  • The standard approach to adjust primary market research is to use a rule of thumb, wherein forecasters dock a standard amount like 33.3 or 50% from preference share so that it more closely resembles market share. If this method is used, forecasters must make sure to consistently apply the same amount and not adjust amounts because they look too high or low. When this happens, it invalidates the research. Due to this, some recommend using scales that correlates verbal assertions to internal commitments, like the Juster scale. The Juster Scale is an 11-point scale with specific follow-through percentages linked to each point.
  • Another scale that forecasters can use as a template for preference share adjustment is the Fourt-Woodlock equation. This scale emerged from research on consumer packaged goods. It estimates the total volume of purchases per year based on individuals who make trial purchases and repeat purchases of a product within the first year.

Reasons for Overstatement

  • It is very difficult to forecast what the actual needs of a physician will be 2 or 3 years down the road when the drug is finally available.
  • The surveys assume there is equal access to the drug from all patients, which is rarely true.
  • Feedback mechanisms are overlooked. For instance, if a physician
  • Furthermore, primary market research overlooks feedback mechanisms; if physicians start to prescribe a drug and receive negative feedback, that will impact their future prescribing. It also ignores counter detailing; once a product launches, sales reps from pharma competitors will present arguments on behalf of existing drugs. “As good as market research is, no matter how large your sample size or how rigorous your approach, it’s still a contrived exercise,” said Todd Johnson, senior director of forecasting at Kantar Health. “It’s not reality.”

Articles Located During Research

These articles were located during research, but time did not allow analysis. They could be helpful when continuing research.

Results of Initial Research

  • Initial research indicates that there is not an abundance of information on this topic, but data points were located that start to build a picture that the rate is somewhere between 30% and 50%.
  • There was no information located that differentiated between generalists and specialists.
  • During research, a good amount of information was located on the types of research to perform, best practices, and the biggest mistakes made during this type of research.