What Women Want - Pharmaceutical Executive

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What Women Want
Women First HealthCare markets hormone replacement therapy and other products for females over 40. Since Ed Calesa resumed the role of president and CEO in 2000, the company has become a rising star in the world of specialty pharmaceuticals.


Pharmaceutical Executive


"If a woman is taking too much estrogen, her breasts become tender and she thinks, 'Oh my god, I have breast cancer,' and she stops taking it," says Childs. "We've had so much positive feedback from every doctor who has implemented the Test and Treat concept. Other companies are not talking about the real problem and are saying instead, 'Here's our drug, prescribe it.' We are saying, 'Here is the real issue and a concept to help you fix it.'"

Winning with Managed CareThat fusion of market research, marketing savvy, and science allows WFHC to score big on the managed care front. (See linked article "Lending OTC to DTC.")

In 2002, AdvancePCS, the largest US pharmacy benefit manager, added Esclim to its performance drug list (PDL), making it the smallest company to have a product receive that designation. The PDL is a therapy-specific guide that helps physicians identify cost-effective products. Caremark, another PBM, also added Esclim to its preferred and primary lists of brand name drugs. AdvancePCS and Caremark will promote the listings through their retail network and mail order pharmacies, which should not only increase revenues but also enhance WFHC's efforts to gain access to other managed care groups.

"The PBMs really like the Test and Treat approach," says Childs. "The biggest issue that managed care organizations have is that patients will not be compliant. It's a cost issue for them and a long-term treatment and care issue for patients. Our product not only has very good clinical advantages, but we showed that we want to spend our marketing dollars getting out the Test and Treat message. We believe we can drive business for them, that our sales force is effective, that Test and Treat will keep patients on the product, and that it is favorable to have a product accompanied by the right clinical message. We are now starting in the honeymoon stage with Esclim, and we hope to get into a solid marriage with our other products."

Bright FutureWFHC's "march toward profitability" is one of incredible turnaround, says Calesa. But in eight years of business, its foundation has changed little. Instead of marketing a brand, WFHC continues to brand a market with its approach and name. Through extensive knowledge of what women want and what managed care wants to pay for, the company is distinguishing itself in a space glutted with a surfeit of products and information.

After spending a lifetime reaching toward women, Calesa is confident that WFHC has secured a place within the industry. "In this business, a successful future usually means two things. You generally buy other companies, or other companies buy you. So within five years, we'll be either on the left or the right side of that equation."


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