Launching Daytrana in a Skeptical Environment

November 29, 2006

Pharmaceutical Executive

Volume 0, Issue 1

Shire markets ADHD patch with unbranded campaign.

When post-marketing studies linked ADHD drugs to an increased risk of depression and suicidal thoughts, drug makers held their breath. They had seen what happened to anti-depressants when FDA mandated black box warning labels, and now the agency was requiring similar warnings for some ADHD drug brands.

Shire Pharmaceuticals has staked a significant part of its future on the ADHD market. Its main contender, Adderall XR, has 26 percent of the ADHD market in the United States. The company has three additional ADHD compounds in its pipeline.

With Adderall XR going off patent in April 2009, Shire prepared to launch its latest entrant into the ADHD category: the Daytrana patch. Analysts had high hopes for the product, but Shire--working with advertising agency Unit 7 and public relations agency Porter Novelli--still needed to convince parents of its utility.

To coincide with the back-to-school season, Unit 7 built an unbranded TV spot directing parents to Shire Web site adhdprogress.com, where they could sign up to receive more information from the company in the mail. The spots empathized with parents' anger at the disease, and connected them to a support network.

In the same vein, Shire hosted the eighth annual ADHD Experts on Call program on ADHD awareness day in September. A panel of 25 physicians, school nurses, teachers, and other experts and advocates answered questions through a toll-free hotline and online forum. The interactive component provided "depth and valuable analysis" on issues that parents were concerned about, said Ann Hutchinson, Shire's marketing director for Daytrana.

Ty Pennington, the celebrity designer on ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and an ADHD patient, also talked about his experiences with the disorder in media interviews and on a live webcast. A Hispanic physician answered questions for Spanish-speaking parents.

Ad agency Integrated Communications Corp. also worked on professional outreach to educate physicians on how the patch was different from other stimulant drugs in the methylphenidate class. In particular, parents can adust Daytrana's "wear-time" to avoid late-day side effects or accommodate a child's schedule, Hutchinson noted.

Within three months of its launch, Daytrana captured 1.7 percent of the ADHD market--in line with Shire's goals. Unaided awareness among physicians grew from four percent to 15 percent, and aided awareness increased from 15 percent to 63 percent, according to Porter Novelli.

The Experts on Call program Web site received 20,000 viewings and hosted 1,300 live one-on-one chats. The hotline received 1,500 calls, including 612 in Spanish.

"The public embraced the news about Daytrana," Hutchinson said. "The see the challenges [the disorder] and they see the benefits of ADHD therapy. We have not seen significant pullback from either physicians or parents."