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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The First 'Black-Only' Drug Contd...

Some industry analysts hailed the approval of BiDil as the first step toward personalized medicines. However, critics were alarmed at the development as they felt that marketing a race-specific drug could promote racial stereotyping and create a misconception that people of different races differed on a biological level. There were also many others who felt that the marketing of BiDil as a race-specific drug was motivated by commercial interests alone. They said that NitroMed only wanted to market this drug to blacks as, by doing so, they could extend the patent for BiDil. The patent for BiDil for use among the general population was valid up to 2007, but the new patent for use among blacks increased the "market exclusivity" to 2020.

Critics also pointed out that BiDil had been tested only on black patients and there was no scientific evidence to back the claim that the drug did not work on other races.

Apart from the controversy surrounding the approval and marketing of BiDil as a race-specific drug, it posed a marketing challenge to NitroMed. Marketing to a specific community required a multicultural marketing approach- where the message, the media channel, etc. had to be in accordance with the needs of the black community. When BiDil was launched in mid-July 2005, some analysts predicted that the drug would touch US$ 200 million in revenues by 2007.14 However, despite a grassroots marketing effort and various rounds of sales force optimization, the sales of BiDil were far below the projections. Between mid-July 2005 and June 2006, the sales were just US$ 9.7 million.15

NitroMed also faced problems with regard to providing access to BiDil through insurance-providers. Some analysts felt that doctors were prescribing the two drugs in BiDil separately as they were available as generics,16 and at a price much lower than BiDil...

Excerpts >>


14] "NitroMed Shares Fall on Soft Sales," www.finanznachrichten.de, August 3, 2006.

15] Source: www.nitromed.com.

16] Generic drugs (or Generics) are either copies or the basic form of a proprietary drug (or "brand-named") drugs produced by large multinational. For example, Lipitor is the brand name owned and patented by Pfizer. It contains the molecule Atorvastatin. Any other drugs with the same composition made by other companies are called generics.

 

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