Antidepressants subject of most details

April 1, 2001

Pharmaceutical Representative

Antidepressants in the SSRI/SNRI class were the subject of the most pharmaceutical industry details and events during the third quarter of 2000, according to an audit by Newtown, PA-based Scott-Levin.

Antidepressants in the SSRI/SNRI class were the subject of the most pharmaceutical industry details and events during the third quarter of 2000, according to an audit by Newtown, PA-based Scott-Levin.

Some highlights from the audit:


•Â The number of details industrywide decreased 2%, to 14.8 million, while events fell 6%, to just under 76,000. Pharmaceutical promotion typically decreases during the summer months.


•Â SSRI/SNRIs again ranked number one in details, with 934,000. The class also finished first in events with 5,894, a 29% increase from the second quarter of 2000.


•Â The two products in the COX-2 inhibitor class, Celebrex™ (celecoxib), co-promoted by Peapack, NJ-based Pharmacia Corp. and New York-based Pfizer Inc., and Vioxx® (rofecoxib tablets), manufactured by Whitehouse Station, NJ-based Merck & Co. Inc., were promoted at 797,000 details and 3,079 events.


•Â Promotion of antihistamines fell, as events for Kenilworth, NJ-based Schering-Plough Corp.'s Claritin® (loratadine) and Pfizer's Zyrtec® (cetirizine HCl) decreased substantially (19% and 33%, respectively). The class ranked third in details and fifth in events.


•Â Pfizer led the industry in detail ($181 million) and event ($45 million) spending.

Extending product life

A close look at promotion shows several different strategies and tactics to extend the lives of drugs whose patents are due to expire.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., New York, has attempted to lengthen the patent life for Glucophage® (metformin HCl) by creating a new combination drug, Glucovance™ (glyburide and metformin HCl tablets).

During the third quarter, 56% of physicians surveyed noted that Glucovance details described the medication as a combination product, according to Scott-Levin's Personal Selling Audit/Hospital Personal Selling Audit. Another 23% mentioned cost as a topic of discussion.

Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co.'s Prozac® (fluoxetine HCl) will lose patent protection in 2001. However, in July the Food and Drug Administration approved Sarafem™ (fluoxetine hydrochloride), which contains the same active ingredient as Prozac, for treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

By September of 2000, promotional expenditures for Sarafem (excluding consumer advertising) totaled $9.4 million, an increase of 47% over the previous month.

Wilmington, DE-based AstraZeneca LP's Prilosec® (omeprazole) faces patent expiration and heavy generic competition in 2001. During the first eight months of 2000, Prilosec was second in the industry in direct-to-consumer advertising spending, with $92.5 million. The 2000 campaign focused on the "Purple Pill," one of the more recognizable DTC programs among physicians and consumers.

Of the major pharmaceuticals that were advertised to consumers in the third quarter of 2000, Prilosec's ad was ranked number one in aided-with-image recall by consumers and number three by doctors. Additionally, 39% of consumers and physicians reported they had seen the ad when prompted with a picture of the print campaign, according to Scott-Levin's Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Audit. PR

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