Largest marketing campaign for a single drug to date

The cardiovascular market, one of the most hotly contested therapeutic areas of the pharmaceutical industry, continues to expand.

Together, drugs that lower blood pressure and cholesterol treat 303 million potential patients worldwide. Nevertheless, companies that develop fourth- or fifth-to-market drugs will struggle to compete, according to research by business intelligence firm Cutting Edge Information.

Reaching the top of any cardiovascular market requires building a powerful and comprehensive marketing strategy. By successfully following the right strategy, pharma companies have achieved tremendous payoffs. For example, Pfizer's Lipitor, a market-leading statin and the world's best-selling drug, accumulated more than $9 billion last year, more than some entire drug classes. Launching Crestor in late 2003, AstraZeneca entered the statin market. Not only was the market long established, it also was dominated by two super- blockbusters, Lipitor and Merck's Zocor.

The challenge for AstraZeneca brand managers was to capture consumers away from the immensely popular market leaders (by differentiating their product) and to raise awareness among consumers not yet taking treatment for their high cholesterol. Consequently, AstraZeneca initiated the largest marketing campaign for a single drug to date. The $1 billion plan included various aspects of marketing, such as detailing, sampling, and DTC advertising. Reps distributed about 500,000 30-day samples to doctors, rather than giving out the typical 7-day packs.

Officials also decided to hold off their DTC campaign until the drug had been on the market for a while, giving doctors time to become comfortable with the drug. "If used wisely, DTC advertising blitzes can generate huge returns," said Elio Evangelista, senior analyst at Cutting Edge Information. "In 1997, Schering-Plough spent $136 million advertising Claritin; the risk returned $1.9 billion in US sales." However, some enormous campaigns also have backfired and steered patients toward the leading drugs the ads should defeat. In fact, Bristol-Myers Squibb's $126 million ad campaign for Pravachol caused the company to lose market share. Therefore, the most spending does not always generate the most revenues. "Cardiovascular Marketing: Budgets, Staffing and Strategy", Cutting Edge Information's latest report, analyzes marketing strategies available to cardiovascular brand teams and resource allocation methods used by leading pharma companies to remain competitive.

With metrics and detailed case studies, the report explores portfolio prioritization, aggressive marketing, and evolving industry trends.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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