Race-Specific Drug 'BiDil': Nitromed's Marketing Challenge

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG154
Case Length : 29 Pages
Period : 2000-2006
Organization : NitroMed Inc.
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : USA
Industry : Pharmaceutical

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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BiDil - Path to the Market

During the 1970s, Dr. Jay Cohn, a heart specialist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, USA, started his research work on using vasodilation and hydralazine and nitrate therapy to treat heart disorders. The studies that he conducted in 1973 and 1978 paved the way for further testing of a novel way to treat heart failure.

In the 1980s, Cohn was the lead cardiologist on the two Vasodilator Heart Failure Trials (V-HeFT I and II) conducted to determine the efficacy of a combination therapy of isosorbide dinitrate (I) and hydralazine hydrochloride (H) in heart failure. The result of V-HeFT I showed that the combination had a significant beneficial effect in treating heart failure...

The Marketing Challenge

According to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau in May 2006, it was estimated that there were 39.7 million African Americans in the US, roughly making up 13.4 percent of the population. There were studies done that showed that this segment of the population was more prone to diseases than the average population...

The Controversy

BiDil was a controversial drug since it was the first race-specific drug. With race being a controversial issue, it sparked a raging debate on the issue of race-specific drugs and personalized medicine.

The approval of BiDil was viewed by some experts as a major milestone toward realizing the potential of personalized medicine based on the genetic makeup of individual patients and groups of patients. But there were many critics who felt that the company's marketing strategy was race generated (Refer to Exhibit IX for results of an opinion poll on race-based medicine)...

Nitromed's Response

NitroMed countered these criticisms and said that its marketing strategy was based on science and would help address the health disparity between blacks and whites. NitroMed stood by its test studies and said that there was plenty of data that showed that black patients benefited particularly from NO enhancing drugs like BiDil. Dr Manuel Worcel (Worcel), who was the company's chief medical officer at that time, said, "In 1999, we reanalyzed the 1986 study and saw a very clear benefit in African American patients."...

Excerpts Contd...>>


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