Pharma's challenge to convert science into marketing was the topic of a lively discussion at Pharmaceutical Executive's first branding seminar in April. In a session moderated by editor-in-chief Wayne Koberstein, four experts in integrated marketing offered diverse examples of why executives in product development, commercialization, and lifecycle management need to work together.
To kick off the panel discussion, Nancy Lurker, group vice-president for Pharmacia, described the process that her company adopted to renew and maximize the value of Detrol (tolterodine). Pharmacia researchers developed Detrol as a bladder selective drug for incontinence with sales forecast at approximately $60 million annually. To increase the brand's marketing potential, Pharmacia leveraged proprietary Detrol science to promote the brand as an important therapy for a new category called overactive bladder. Market research verified that Pharmacia was on the right track, and four years after launch, Detrol sales reached $750 million-25 percent more than the original forecast.
Ilyssa Levins, chairman of GCI Healthcare Public Relations, underscored how public relations supports the "science and marketing connection" by creating a receptive climate through advocacy and issue-oriented media relations. She said PR can facilitate awareness and adoption among regulators, payers, medical influencers, and patients alike by conditioning the market for acceptance of new concepts such as overactive bladder.The group agreed that it is a challenge to maximize cooperation between R&D scientists and marketers within pharma companies, where silos often exist. But ideas for using scientific information to create marketing blockbusters can originate from any part of the company, which is why working together at the very beginning of a drug's lifecycle can be pivotal. Establishing strong partnerships, rather than vendor relationships, with agencies was strongly advocated by Ken Ribotsky, president of the medical advertising agency Ribotsky Worldwide, and Frank Hone, executive vice-president of Healthworld's global business group.