Case | HBS Case Collection | March 1994 (Revised March 1995)

Astra/Merck Group

by Frank V. Cespedes and Marie Bell


Astra/Merck (A/M), originally a joint venture of AB Astra and Merck & Co., is preparing to be an independent company in 1993. Since the company does not engage in basic research and development of drugs, it is essentially a distribution organization. Fundamental to A/M's strategy is a new approach to the marketing of prescription drugs. The case outlines this approach, developments in the pharmaceuticals industry, and issues raised by A/M's attempts to implement a new marketing process in an industry where promotion-oriented "detailing" has dominated distribution practices.

Keywords: Cost vs Benefits; Marketing Strategy; Distribution; Performance Evaluation; Research and Development; Risk and Uncertainty; Sales; Competitive Strategy; Pharmaceutical Industry;


Cespedes, Frank V., and Marie Bell. "Astra/Merck Group." Harvard Business School Case 594-045, March 1994. (Revised March 1995.)