Asthma Brands on the Rebound

February 14, 2007
Pharmaceutical Executive

Volume 0, Issue 0

Teva plans NBA-themed campaign for re-branded ProAir.

Teva Specialty Pharmaceuticals--which has been breathing easy since FDA mandated the use of more environmentally friendly asthma inhalers--is hoping for a slam dunk with a new disease-awareness campaign featuring NBA players. The company, which makes the ProAir (albuterol) and Qvar (beclomethasone) inhaler brands, is teaming up with the basketball association as well as the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to educate fans about how to prevent and manage the disease.

The campaign--dubbed "Are You Ready to Go Pro?"--plays on ProAir's brand name, which was changed last July with the tagline "Our name has gone pro." Teva is one of four firms that reformulated their inhalers with hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) rather than chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) in their propulsion systems. Since CFC inhalers must be phased out of circulation by the end of 2008, a market that was once squarely in the hands of generics makers is now up for grabs.

With limited competition, Teva, it seems, is off and running. The latest figures from IMS Health show that the company has captured 66 percent of the HFA market, and Citibank is predicting 390 percent growth this year for ProAir--for a total of $270 million in sales.

Teva--which is largely known as a generics makers but acquired branded products as part of its merger with Ivax--is also running separate branded campaigns for the two products. During last year's third-quarter earnings call, George Barrett, president and CEO of Teva North America, spoke about the complexities of switching patients from its generic CFC drugs to the branded HFA products.

"We built a small sales force, but this is going to be a unique situation, which in a way involves the physician but also in a way involves the pay orders and the resell chains," he said. "And we are going to work with all of our tools across both our branded and our generics enterprise to supply to that market."

The NBA campaign centers on a sweepstakes in which fans can win a free trip to the 2007 draft by writing an essay entitled "How I (or My Family) Stay(s) Active With Asthma." Several current and former players are asthma sufferers. Facts about the medical condition will also be posted on the Web site www.readytogopro.com, and displayed at NBA events like the All-Star Jam Session and the Summer Tour.