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Setting Your Launch Path


Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical ExecutivePharmaceutical Executive-09-01-2019
Volume 39
Issue 9

There are many factors involved in launching a drug but one prevailing goal: brand awareness. I caught up with Fingerpaint's Bryan O’Malley, who shared some of today's key digital trends affecting that mission.

While prepping for our Tech Tour for the C-Suite issue next month, I spent some time speaking with Bryan O’Malley, head of digital at Fingerpaint in Saratoga Springs, a health and wellness marketing agency, recently named 2019 Agency of the Year by Med Ad News. O’Malley filled me on all things digital affecting pharma marketers, a considerable list for sure, but also

Lisa Henderson

extremely relevant to this month’s issue highlighting brand launch. All the factors going into product launch are complex, but the one that remains constant is reaching your target audience: the prescribing physician. The rest of the decisions-reimbursement, access, patient needs, supply chain, etc.-then fall to your therapeutic area. Even in this era of PBMs, payers, and pricing, your targeted physicians’ awareness of your brand is key. Let’s take a look at some of the digital trends that currently affect branding that Bryan shared, and then we’ll get into a brief list of the products we chose to highlight this year.

Mobile phones. OK, you could say we’ve been there, done that. But O’Malley believes this is an area ripe for a better experience. “Mobile may not be sexy anymore, but the reality is that most of pharma still doesn’t do mobile well…they don’t really give it the same priority as the desktop, but that is where your audience is.” To that end, O’Malley says that marketers need to remember the reality that your audience is going to see your campaign on a four-inch phone screen. “If you put the focus on having the best web experience possible, you need to design the experience for the platform. Think about the font sizes you’re using, how easy it is to see and tap on links, how easy is it to discover and consume content-things like that. It’s an area that every brand should focus on to put their best foot forward.”

Apps. Is it a fad that’s passed and something people use for a day and go away? O’Malley says no. “Apps remind me of the early days of the web…everybody put up their website without thinking of the value for the visitor. It took quite a few iterations to figure out what worked well on the web as far as design and content.” He believes it’s the same with the app world. There will be a resurgence of apps but they will be better, faster, and will foster better engagements and provide greater value than what’s been done in the past.

Voice. Based on predictions, O’Malley shared that by the end of next year, 30% of web search will be by voice (think Alexa and Siri). By extension, O’Malley says the time is now for pharma to start ensuring their brands are findable using voice search. “When web search grew, so did the art of SEO. It’s the same for voice,” he says. “There are technical ways to achieve better voice results. Marketers can be doing work to their websites now to ensure their brand will appear in voice search results and make it easier for their target audience to get answers to their questions. There is a huge incentive to make sure you are catering to that, and to make sure you deliver more relevant results.”

The Brands

In alphabetical order by brand, the ones we chose this year and the reasons for including them are:

Aimovig, Amgen/Novartis. As the first preventive migraine drug available in over a decade, it is entering a crowded fielded, requiring tight market maneuvers.

Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals. Labeled for use in both Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes, it is the first drug approved using a cannabinoid.

Erleada, Janssen/J&J. This drug for non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (nmCRPC) was acquired through a biotech and was approved ahead of schedule under the FDA’s fast-track designation.

Mavenclad, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. This oral product for multiple sclerosis was recently approved in the US, having been available in Europe for over a year.

Nuzyra, Paratek Pharma. This is the first once-daily intravenous and oral antibiotic approved to treat both community-acquired bacterial pneumonia (CABP) and acute skin and skin structure infections (ABSSSI) patients in nearly 20 years.

As you read through these brand launch stories and their journeys to market, the decisions made, and the decisions you may soon be facing with your own products, think about their path, but also think about the digital trends. They are simple, yet doable, with the potential for great results. Can you or are you incorporating them into your campaigns?


Lisa Henderson is Editor-in-Chief of Pharm Exec. She can be reached at lhenderson@mmhgroup.com. Follow Lisa on Twitter: @trialsonline


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