Nine months after it pulled Chantix DTC amid concern about possible psychiatric side effects, Pfizer's tortoise and hare are back on the air with a new 90-second TV spot long on risk information.
Pfizer debuted DTC for the drug, launched in mid-2006, with print ads and 60-second spots in September 2007, but pulled DTC in January and strengthened the warning label amid reports of suicidal and other erratic behavior linked to the drug, however anecdotal.
The TV spot, dubbed “Take the First Step,” is by Interpublic Group's McCann HumanCare. It emphasizes the importance of patient-physician dialogue in smoking cessation and dwells on risk information, which takes up nearly half the ad and includes a warning that patients should stop taking Chantix if they experience agitation or suicidal impulses. The spot also stresses the value of counseling and support, including Pfizer's recently-retooled GetQuit Support Plan for Chantix.
“The Chantix approach is a pill with a program,” says the narrator, with a plummy English accent. “And because slip-ups happen, you can't have to much support, so include your doctor, friends and family, and consider GetQuit, a support plan for Chantix users.”
The firm also updated Chantix.com
, executed by Publicis' Digitas Health, with new patient testimonials in its “Real People, Real Stories” section. Chantix was the top-searched prescription brand as of February, according to measurement firm comScore, and Pfizer's Chantix website for healthcare professionals was rated the number three product site for doctors last month by Manhattan Research – an indication of continuing interest in the drug among the medical community.
US sales of the drug for the first half of 2008 totaled $329 million, according to IMS Health data, with 3 million prescriptions dispensed. Last year sales were $682 million, with 7.3 million prescriptions dispensed. Pfizer spent almost $58 million in measured media advertising the drug to consumers through the end of 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence data.