The website for AstraZeneca's heartburn medication Nexium, www.purplepill.com, generated the most site traffic in Q2 2008 with more than 1 million unique visitors, up 55% from a year ago, according to a study by comScore.
The study which looked at of the top pharmaceutical brand websites in Q2 2008, revealed a substantial growth versus last year, in the diabetes drug Actos, which ranked second with 855,000 unique visitors and the insomnia medication Ambien CR, ranking number three with 756,000 unique visitors.
Websites for Gardasil, Lexapro, Veramyst, Januvia, Lyrica, Topamax and Seroquel rounded out the top 10 for generating the most site traffic.
John Mangano, senior director, comScore Pharmaceutical Marketing Solutions, said that AstraZeneca has aggressively marketed Nexium, running approximately twice as much online display advertising in Q2 as either of its major competitors, Prevacid and Aciphex did.
Mangano added that the additional marketing muscle appears to have helped generate strong site visitation, a very important marketing step in the competitive pharmaceutical industry.
Other key findings from the study found that Takeda Pharmaceuticals substantially increased marketing for the Actos brand beginning in the third quarter of 2007, helping build actos.com into the second most visited site in the category in Q2 2008 versus a year ago.
Merck increased marketing activity for its diabetes treatment Januvia beginning in the second half of last year, resulting in a nearly 330% increase in visitors to januvia.com. And Merck's highly publicized HPV vaccine Gardasil was approved by the FDA in the second quarter of 2006. Although the number of site visitors has declined 21% during the past year since the company's initial marketing and public relations push, the site still ranks among the top five most visited sites with 722,000 visitors.
Pfizer has ramped up its marketing and public relations efforts for Lyrica since the third quarter of 2007, when the product received FDA approval to be marketed for the treatment of fibromyalgia. The site, lyrica.com, has seen a 36% increase in unique visitors.
With a number of migraine treatments nearing patent expirations, the makers of popular migraine treatment Topomax launched a heavy online display ad campaign to bolster awareness, resulting in a 38% increase in Q2 2008 versus year ago.
Mangano said that data from the study revealed key information about the importance of the life cycles of drugs. “The key part is in the lifecycle of the drug patent, specifically, often they are launching or they are at a point where they need to maximize the value that it can provide towards the end of the patent life,” he said. Mangano said that it's important that drug companies maximize the marketing end and sales in that process.
The study also showed the important role that the Internet continues to play in pharmaceutical marketing. “The web presence is key on many levels, even in support of offline,” said Mangano. “What we are seeing is 80% of people online are doing their health research using the Internet. In order to be part of that you really need to have a web presence and people, as they start looking at your specific drug or as a condition, will go to your website.” Mangano noted that 40% of people who are researching a specific branded drug will be at the web site looking for the details of that drug.