By Dan Bobear (@dbobear)
Now that AstraZeneca’s experimental blood thinner Brilinta has been given the green light by an advisory committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, they need to prepare for the next hurdle they face: usurping category leader, Plavix, which is slated for generic availability sometime next year.
Most critical: changing physician prescribing behavior.
The lessons coming out of the Brilinta approval process are a key for marketers. Like the study that showed Brilintas less favorable results in the U.S., compared to the entire 18,000+ international population of patients studied, what works in one place may not work in another.
What should AstraZeneca (and every marketer) be thinking about?
Location-based promotional activity You can have the right message but in the wrong place. With the effectiveness in U.S. participants in question, the company needs to address that concern, giving patients and physicians confidence in the drug as an appropriate course of treatment. Traditional marketing vehicles, social media, conference exhibits and direct mail pieces combined with insight gathered through the CRM system will ensure the right message is delivered to the right audience at the right time.
Creating a positive brand image – This article references a poll that showed that 75 percent of physicians were prescribing Plavix for a year or more. For Brilinta to successfully penetrate the market, they will likely need to break physician behavior of prescribing a medication out of habit. Reaching an increasing number of doctors with no-call policies, as well as a consumer audience, will require a multi-channel approach, especially when a low-cost generic option is available. Where to focus? For doctors, the brand needs to communicate the safety and efficacy of the drug. Patients also need to understand the advantages they will gain through treatment.
Interacting directly with patients Patients who request a drug, provided they are a candidate for it, are likely to get it. Direct-to-consumer messaging is no longer limited to print and broadcast advertising and educational resources. Todays patients head online and research treatment options across a variety of sources. Community forums enable patients to get information from other users, medical professionals, and company-sponsored materials. While changing physician prescribing behavior is an imperative, its also important to create demand among appropriate patients.
Incorporating social media Discussion groups, You Tube videos, Twitter, and blogs as well as improved search engine optimization can increase brand awareness and create a positive connection with the target community. Facebook has become an extremely important referral source to drive people to a companys website. There are brand pages, disease awareness groups and fans or followers that can carry the message to a larger audience. AstraZeneca has taken a deliberate but dedicated approach to social media, but to shift the opinion of doctors and patients, they will need to produce social content that is a little less sterile and a lot more engaging.
The September 16 decision looks favorable. How do you see this changing the competitive landscape? What do you think Brilinta needs to achieve peak sales?