Schering's Intron A skin-cancer injection therapy faced a 30% to 40% non-compliance rate due to the product's side effects of nausea, fever and loss of appetite.
"The yearlong therapy is difficult to complete with significant but manageable side effects," said Frank Musat, senior director of oncology marketing at Schering's Oncology Biotech unit.
So promotion/ad agency Dugan Valva Contess, Morristown, N.J., helped Schering create the "Crossing Bridges" program, which links patients with others who have made their way through the therapy. The plan also recruits a patient's friend or family member as a coach for support.
A consumer kit-with uplifting quotes throughout and a place for monthly progress stickers-is given to patients who enroll at their doctor's office. It includes a daily journal and a list of support numbers to call.
Patients later receive monthly mailings of a newsletter as well as premiums such as an AT&T phone card, movie-rental vouchers for Blockbuster Video and empty bottles with coupons for Gatorade.
"When you're low on fluids, you're an opportune candidate to bring loyalty to an isotonic liquid," said Peter Dugan, president of Dugan Valva. "These things satisfy human needs and give [marketing partners] a customer either as sampling or [for] long-term loyalty."
OTHER SUPPORT KITS
Less intricate kits have been done by SmithKline Beecham for smoking cessation products Nicorette and NicoDerm CQ, which offer Committed Quitters programs complete with supportive audio tapes.
"There are a lot of kits going out these days," said Mr. Dugan, whose agency also has AT&T as a client.
"I think you're going to see a lot more of this happening," he added.