Player Profile: DeYoung bucks DTC trend with new Zomig strategy

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AstraZeneca vet shepherds No. 2 migraine fighter

Rick DeYoung, 37, the new marketing product manager for AstraZeneca's migraine drug Zomig, plans an approach for this year that bucks the direct-to-consumer TV blitz trend.

"As direct-to-consumer becomes more entrenched-because it's still a fairly new approach-people are finding that it's like all of our tactics: situational," Mr. DeYoung said. "So it's not just something you can throw out there for any brand-you really have to treat it like everything else and measure if it's appropriate for your particular product."


AstraZeneca spent $34 million behind Zomig last year, which included a new TV effort from KPR, New York, but is now refocusing its efforts on pitching physicians about the merits of the 3-year-old drug. (Consumer print ads however, will continue to run.)

Zomig's highly emotional TV effort showed a mother struggling to overcome a debilitating migraine that hindered her ability to care for her two children. At one point, her cute son tells her, "I'm sorry you're sick."

"It was powerful. It meant a lot to the consumers and the patients that saw it-it really struck home," Mr. DeYoung said. "But we weren't finding that it was really the proper time for that type of a tactic. As we continue to monitor and as the market changes, it may come back."

For Mr. DeYoung, who spent most of his career at AstraZeneca and its predecessor companies, the job ahead is undeniably a tough one. Glaxo Wellcome recently launched a new DTC campaign for market dominator Imitrex. As a whole, the market for the class of migraine drugs known as triptans has grown haltingly and new drugs are nearing launch.

But Zomig has proven to be a little engine that could. In 1999, the brand established itself as a strong No. 2 player in the market as it chiseled into Imitrex's share. At the same time, it fought off challengers beneath it. Figures from consulting firm IMS Health show Zomig posted $122 million in U.S. sales last year for 9% of the market, compared to $947 million for Imitrex, which had 74%.

Zomig is still gaining-though its growth rate may have ebbed-due in part to its "anytime positioning," which touts the product's ability to work effectively no matter what point during a migraine it is taken.


That message is likely to get a boost if the U.S. Food & Drug Administration allows Astra/ Zeneca to market a "wafer" version of Zomig that dissolves on the tongue. Without the need for water, the drug would be easier to take on the run.

AstraZeneca is also testing a nasal spray version of Zomig and plans to submit the product to the FDA for approval, which would go up against Glaxo's version.

Mr. DeYoung started working at Stuart Pharmaceuticals in 1988 as a medical sales rep. He focused most of his career in sales until becoming senior promotions manager His recent promotion to marketing product manager came under difficult circumstances. His predecessor, Mike Toupe, who helped bring Mr. DeYoung onto the marketing team, died suddenly of leukemia last summer.

"I feel like one of my missions is to follow through on what he started," said Mr. DeYoung. "He had us pointed in the right direction; it's my job to keep us on track."

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