The patently obvious

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This time last year, the majority of us were glad to see the back of 2009. The industry welcomed 2010 with an uncertain mix of trepidation, relief, hope and bracing for the worst. In a way, we were all predicting that it would be one of the least predictable years in memory. And that's pretty much how it panned out.
While the president lost his nerve and PhRMA lost Billy Tauzin, the market gained a few more new drugs than had been expected and—not entirely unrelated—medical publishers gained lots of pages. Perhaps a little more predictable than any of those is the fact that, as we go to press, the FDA has yet to offer guidance on digital communications and social media—although we're told the first wave may appear as “early” as this month. The hearings and their accompanying buzz seem like an awfully long time ago.
So, what does 2011 have in store for us? Like you didn't know. We've all been talking about 2011 for a long time. In fact, even when it was 2007 and 2008, and long before it was 2010, we were talking about 2011. For anyone who is still going about their business with their eyes shut tightly and a finger placed firmly in each ear (“La la la la la la la…”), it's time to fasten your seatbelts…we are about to go over the patent cliff.
The list of expirations has been well-publicized, but the brand names are so well-known and, therefore, the list is so damn daunting, that it's well worth running through some of the big ones again here: Lipitor (Pfizer), Plavix (Sanofi-Aventis/Bristol-Myers Squibb), Zyprexa (Eli Lilly), Levaquin (Johnson & Johnson), Advair (GlaxoSmithKline) (not all patents), and many more. I'll stop there. The expirations total around $25 billion in sales.
And before anyone says “Roll on, 2012,” the following should see the end of exclusivity for Singulair, Seroquel, Actos, Diovan and Viagra, to name but a few giant brands. Needless to say, over the next year, access to treatments will be king, and managed care increasingly will call the tune.
“If you're trying to market a drug effectively in a territory where you don't have good managed care access, you're not going to get very far,” Healogix CEO Harris Kaplan tells Matthew Arnold in our Outlook 2011 coverage, “Eye of the Storm” (see pages 34-36).
Hopefully there will be a few product launches, too, in the next 12 months. Our friend Mike Luby, president and CEO at the BioPharma Alliance, put together some interesting numbers: based on launch data of 300 products since 2002, Luby has deduced that, “all things being equal, a product launched today is likely to achieve almost 50% less uptake in terms of market share than a product launched in 2006”.
It may not be news that product launches are getting smaller but it's interesting to tack some numbers onto it. Thankfully, for those preparing to launch products in 2011, Luby also offers tips on determining optimal positioning, forecasting, priming the market, accelerating uptake and, of course, executing a marketing campaign (see pages 38-39).
Nobody ever said 2011 would be easy. But this is still an exciting time in medical marketing with plenty of opportunity for innovation, particularly as we move away from the blockbuster model and continue our journey down the long tail.
For now, I'd like to wish all readers and their families the happiest of holidays and we'll see you all again in the New Year with our All-Stars issue.


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