Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Article in the Wall Street Journal -- Marketing New Antismoking Pill Poses Challenges for Pfizer, by Scott Hensley:
For Pfizer Inc., the easiest part of marketing its new antismoking pill may have been winning Food and Drug Administration approval for the drug in May.
Chantix, the first medicine in a decade to help smokers quit, would seem a surefire blockbuster. Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., and about 70% of the nation's 45 million smokers say they want to quit, according to government estimates. In addition, existing treatments work poorly, and Chantix got speedy FDA approval in large part because of its superior performance.
But in launching the drug, Pfizer has had to negotiate a marketing obstacle course that illustrates some of the challenges facing the industry, as well as the idiosyncrasies of the huge antismoking market. Aware of increased consumer cynicism and unfulfilled promises made for smoking treatments in the past, Pfizer has adopted a softer sell that it hopes will build Chantix steadily over time. Meanwhile, because insurers are slow to cover smoking treatments, it has priced Chantix so that consumers will be willing to pay for it themselves.