First in class
Oftentimes, marketing a first-in-class drug also means raising awareness about a growing or little-recognized disease. Even
after navigating regulatory hurdles, makers of innovator therapies must educate patients, physicians, and payers on the merits
of their drug, and, as is often left to pioneers, create new understanding.
Before Viagra came along, the world had never heard of erectile dysfunction. Heavy advertising and other promotions
by Pfizer made Viagra a household name.
First-in-class drugs may not ultimately be the best in class. Market share can easily be lost due to innovation. With the
incredible pace of scientific research, each passing day leads to better understanding of a drug target—knowledge that may
benefit the follow-on drug maker. To compete in the long term, companies must differentiate products.
In the incredibly competitive autoimmune market, advertising and branding trends are driven by benefits. Although physicians
and patients are always looking for new treatments, they remain reluctant to switch from therapies that show good results
without solid proof that a newer biologic will improve care. For example, a novel, first-in-class biologic for Chrohn's disease
with solid data had a slow uptake because side effects seemed worrisome. Gastroenterologists chose to exhaust use of existing
anti-TNF therapies before trying a newer option.
Sometimes great scientific studies or even superior dosing regimens aren't enough to grab people's attention. You have to
connect with your audience, listen to their concerns, and together conquer a disease impacting patients' lives. To set autoimmune
brands apart, advertising agencies need to mine a brand's unique story, which too often is buried beneath complex data. Strong
data are the essential reason therapies reach market. However, clarity of communications sets them apart. In addition, we
need to uncover the real needs of the patient, looking at them as a human being first.
One of our roles as communications and creative experts is to communicate those unique brand differentiators in a relevant
manner in order to connect and engage. Good data are a must—conveying patient value is the differentiator, and understanding
creates societal benefit.