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Health Mark Q. 2005;22(4):73-107.

Physicians' decision process for drug prescription and the impact of pharmaceutical marketing mix instruments.

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  • 1University of Leuven, Naamsestraat 69, B-3000 Leuven.


This paper provides an in-depth, qualitative analysis of the physicians' decision process for drug prescription. Drugs in the considered therapeutic classes are mainly prescribed by specialists, treating patients with obligatory medical insurance, for a prolonged period of time. The research approach is specifically designed to capture the full complexity and sensitive nature of the physician's choice behavior, which appears to be more hybrid and less rational in nature than is often assumed in quantitative, model-based analyses of prescription behavior. Several interesting findings emerge from the analysis: (i) non-compensatory decision rules seem to dominate the decision process, (ii) consideration sets are typically small and change-resistant, (iii) drug cost is not a major issue for most physicians, (iv) detailing remains one of the most powerful pharmaceutical marketing instruments and is highly appreciated as a valuable and quick source of information, and (v) certain types of non-medical marketing incentives (such as free conference participation) may in some situations also influence drug choices.

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