Pfizer looks to revive Exubera with DTC

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Pfizer will mount a branded DTC advertising campaign behind Exubera as it attempts to turn around the “disappointing” sales of the inhaled insulin product.

“While we remain convinced that Exubera offers substantial benefit for diabetic patients worldwide, we are disappointed with the product’s performance to date,” Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler said during a conference call with analysts.

As a result, Pfizer will initiate a “full-court press” behind the product, said president, worldwide pharmaceutical operations Ian Read.

Earlier this month, Pfizer’s cardiovascular sales force began supporting the inhaled insulin.
Consumer work will launch in the second half of 2007, “when we feel it’s the right time,” Read said. “Right now we are really focused on watching the product grow.”

In February, Read told Bloomberg News that Pfizer planned a DTC ad campaign targeting newly diagnosed diabetics who may not want to inject themselves daily.

“The heart of the issue in diabetes therapy is the delay in getting patients to begin taking insulin, a delay that often lasts more than eight years.” Read said.

However, Exubera has gone largely spurned by diabetes specialists so far.

Although Pfizer has declined to make public its sales figures for Exubera, most estimates find the inhaled insulin product generated only about $5 million in sales for 2006, or one-tenth as much as much as some analysts initially forecasted.

Exubera was approved by the FDA in February 2006 but experienced a delayed launch due to manufacturing setbacks.

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