PharmExec Blog

Diabetes Drug Launch 2012: Tip-tops and Promo-flops

With Halloween candy flooding the shelves in pharmacies across the nation, it’s only appropriate that we turn the conversation toward an ever-growing drug market and therapeutic area: diabetes.

Promotional spending in the category has steadily risen since 2Q 2011, and was approaching half a billion dollars ($466 million) in the first quarter of this year – up from $360.3 million in 2Q 2011 – assuming first quarter DTC spend in 2012 was similar to 4Q 2011 DTC expenditures, according to a recent report from Encuity Research.

During the first quarter of 2012, three of the four biggest-budget US product launches were diabetes drugs: Amylin’s Bydureon, Merck’s Janumet XR, and Boehringer Ingelheim/Lilly’s Jentadueto, respectively. Combined with Boehgringer Ingelheim/Lilly’s Tradjenta, which received FDA approval in May 2011, and Merck’s Juvisync, which launched last October, these five diabetes drugs represent 23% of the total promotional spend for the diabetes market overall. However, brand teams working on these five drugs came to different conclusions about which media channels to prioritize with physicians, and sales figures differed – at least in part – as a result.

Twenty-four percent of first quarter spending in support of Bydureon, which received FDA approval at the end of January, went to meetings and events, and sales grew from $5.3 million to $27.7 million by the end of 2Q, according to IMS Health data. Juvisync – a Januvia/Zocor combo product – launched during 4Q 2011 with a $24.5 million professional spend during that period, but lagged behind the others in sales. Juvisync earned just $557 thousand during 1Q 2012, and $683 thousand in 2Q, according to the IMS data. It’s worth noting that Juvisync spent more on e-promotion than any of the other five launch brands, according to the Encuity report.

Professional spending in support of Tradjenta, the high roller of the bunch, topped $40 million during May to July, over 70% of which went to sales details, and very little of which went to e-promotion, the report found. Tradjenta’s sales in the US jumped 23%, from $25.8 million in Q1, to $33.7 million in Q2, according to IMS data.

Do these figures suggest that budgets focused more on face-to-face interactions, at meetings and in physicians’ offices, provide a stronger ROI? There are many factors involved in a drug’s performance, not least of which are efficacy, safety, price and reimbursement. The patient perspective is particularly important in diabetes as well, since dietary management is a crucial aspect of any treatment regiment. With respect to engaging physicians at launch, most companies are introducing their new drugs in person, and are posting solid returns on the balance sheet, despite a crowded market.

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One Comment

  1. Leon
    Posted October 13, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Great post.

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