Pfizer's Prescription for Patent Loss: New Drug

Giant Ceases Advertising for $1.2 Billion Detrol as It Launches Toviaz, Which Treats Same Condition

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NEW YORK ( -- As the clock ticks down on patents for Pfizer's $1.2 billion blockbuster drug Detrol, the drug giant is launching a new one to take its place: overactive-bladder remedy Toviaz.

Toviaz ad

Toviaz ad by McCann HumanCare

Pfizer is introducing Toviaz this week with a multiplatform marketing campaign designed to drum up awareness for the condition in 10 markets including Boston and Atlanta. The push was developed by McCann HumanCare.

For the launch, Pfizer is trying a new tack, including a printed support plan called YourWay for patients that will be tucked into sample packs of the drug. The idea is to educate patients while freeing up physicians' time -- and reducing the need for a large sales force. Jim Maffezzoli, senior director-marketing in Pfizer's new primary-care unit, which is marketing the drug, said the sales force will be "significantly smaller" than before and will be retrained to become more of a partner to physicians and understand their needs.

"In the old world, [sales reps] might have come to talk with the doctors about the features of the product," he said. "Now they'll be talking about the product and also the YourWay plan." He added that it is "emblematic of the primary-care business unit to try and bring solutions to the physicians vs. simply coming to physicians with a new product."

'Relatively low awareness'
Mr. Maffezzoli said Pfizer estimates that one in six adults suffers from the ailment, and many simply aren't aware that they have a condition or that they can be relieved of their discomfort. "There's still relatively low awareness of OAB," he said. "There's a lot of need for behavioral support, education and information to help educate patients and manage the condition better."

An extended-release formulation of Detrol, called Detrol LA, is the market leader in the category, with 49% share in a $1.7 billion market, according to 2007 sales data from IMS Health. Next in line: Astellas U.S.'s Vesicare, with 14.5% market share; generic oxybutynin, with 12.5%; and Novartis AG's Enablex, with 10.9%.

Pfizer welcomed the Detrol brand into the fold when it acquired Pharmacia Corp. in 2003, just as it was forced to sell off its own drug, Enablex, to Novartis in order for the merger to go through. But Detrol's basic patent is set to expire September 2012, and Detrol LA has three patents set to expire between 2012 and 2020. Toviaz is structurally related to Detrol but has two doses instead of one, Mr. Maffezzoli said, giving physicians and patients more flexibility in treatment for the drug's efficacy and tolerability.

The Detrol franchise brought in $1.2 billion in worldwide revenue in 2008, 2% more than in 2007, according to Pfizer's 2008 financial report. It's the largest spender in the OAB category: Pfizer spent $71.5 million on U.S. advertising for Detrol and Detrol LA in 2008, excluding internet advertising, according to TNS Media Intelligence. The other big media spenders in the category correspond to IMS Health sales measures: Vesicare ($54.3 million) and Enablex ($40.1 million). For context, Pfizer spent $114.2 million in U.S. advertising in 2008 on its other urology drug, Viagra.

Detrol still available Now that Toviaz is on the market, advertising for the Detrol brand will cease, although both Detrol and Detrol LA will still be available to physicians and patients. Mr. Maffezzoli said he hopes Toviaz will become the "No. 1 branded agent in the category."

The somewhat snarky Toviaz ads, which will appear in TV and print and as online banners, target women with questions such as "Does running to the bathroom count for a good portion of your cardio?" and "Do you feel like kids and careers are far less demanding than your bladder?" All feature the prominent tagline, "Time out. It could be overactive bladder." Pfizer will experiment with out of home, too, placing ads on grocery carts and in women's bathrooms. There is a consumer-facing informational website as well, at, the official website for the drug, is set to launch in May. A brand campaign for Toviaz will unfurl later this year, but Mr. Maffezzoli declined to furnish details.

Pfizer's primary-care unit is one of six small operating groups launched Jan. 1 and was created from two larger ones, pharmaceutical and animal health. The goal, in the words of Chairman-CEO Jeffrey Kindler, is to "enhance innovation and accountability" by organizing units around product areas rather than business function. That means getting the marketing team in earlier on promising drugs from the clinical trial stage onward.

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