In this study, we analyze the impact of pharmaceutical companies’ CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities on doctors’ decisions about prescription drugs in a qualitative approach. In Japan, the decision-makers of prescription drugs are not patients who actually use the drugs but doctors, as specialists, who usually select the drugs. Thus, the pharmaceutical industry has a special structure, with its products having some characteristics of consumer products (in business-to-consumer environments) and those of industrial products (in business-to-business environments). Our interviews with doctors suggest that pharmaceutical companies’ CSR activities hardly influence doctors’ decisions about prescription drugs directly. Instead, usefulness (i.e., efficacy and safety) is recognized to be the most important decision-making factor for prescription drugs in their specialized medical fields and reputation of pharmaceutical companies in their non-specialized fields. The results also show that the CSR activities of pharmaceutical companies strengthen their reputation. In addition, our interviews with patients and their supporters reveal that the views of patients about pharmaceutical companies’ CSR activities are different from those of doctors.
Corporate social responsibility, pharmaceutical industry, prescription drug, qualitative data, Japan