BY JACQUELINE RENFROW
How online and other digital media are transforming the
pharmaceutical industry into a thriving DR marketing
arena for both large and niche companies.
ally contribute to human relationships rather than
detract, as is evident from online dating sites and
social networks like Facebook. Now the pharmaceutical companies are learning that the same can
be done for physicians and patients.
The Internet plays a major role in today’s marketing and selling of pharmaceuticals, especially in
specialty pharmacies and biotech manufacturers.
But its role in educating consumers and physicians
is still growing. The Web is a place for manufacturers to introduce a drug that just received FDA approval, for consumers and doctors to chat, and for
both consumers and marketers to save money.
One product that found success in recent years
using DR is erectile-dysfunction medication Cialis. Mario Neto, the medical marketing manager
for Cialis from 2004-07, was in charge of creating
highly targeted ads that got males 18 to 75 years
old to ask their doctors about the drug. The campaign also targeted healthcare professionals using
the company’s sales force, TV ads, medical journals
and medical conferences. In fourth-quarter 2006,
Cialis got more than 1. 7 million impressions in one
week. Neto reports that 50 percent of Cialis’ marketing dollars were spent on DR marketing — a
large jump over most pharmaceutical campaigns
that range between 10 and 30 percent.
Building Trust Through Education
DR marketing a pharmaceutical product begins
well before a drug’s launch, and the initial campaign focus is usually on education.
“You need to put nomenclature around a particular disease state, create common terminology
in order to reference it,” says Walter Capone, vice
president, commercial development and operations
at Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Progenics, based in Tarrytown, N. Y., recently
received FDA approval and is only weeks away
from launching Relistor, a drug for opioid-induced
constipation (OIC) for those with terminal illnesses. Though Progenics owns the patent rights,
the product is being marketed exclusively by
Wyeth. Entering into a specialty market, Progenics
is facing the challenge of introducing a new drug
that is unlike anything on the market. So the first
step was to create awareness for roughly six months
prior to the FDA approval.
Another challenge for marketing Relistor is targeting and educating different types of healthcare
providers. Most of the potential customers of Relistor are in homecare, so Wyeth has to reach out to
primary care physicians, specialists, oncologists,
pulmenologists and pain specialists. The marketing
team tackles this issue by using several DR channels including print in healthcare journals, Web-based outreach, continuing education conferences,
registered users on Wyeth and a sales force.
Another company that uses DR marketing for
education and building trust is the online drug