Hoping to up its promotional muscle at a time when insurers are starting to cover Cologuard, Exact Sciences has teamed with Pfizer to put an army of sales reps and marketing dollars behind its colon cancer screening kit.
The partnership will add $40 million per year to Cologuard’s marketing and advertising spend, along with more sales reps to reach more doctors. The deal will run through the end of 2021.
“The insight we have suggests that physicians, when they’re called on more frequently by an Exact rep, saw substantial lift in their reorder rate,” said Exact Sciences president Mark Stenhouse. “Whether it’s reps talking to prescribers or TV ads acquiring patients, we needed to have more scale. We could either build it ourselves or look into the marketplace for someone who had experience doing this.”
The Exact Sciences/Pfizer promotional push will target both healthcare professionals and consumers. The deal allows Exact Sciences to tap into the wealth of established relationships Pfizer has with doctors and health systems. As for the consumer component, Exact Sciences has been running TV ads for Cologuard since 2016. Earlier this year, Exact Sciences partnered with actor, singer, and talk show host Harry Connick Jr. for an awareness campaign.
“We believe fundamentally that colorectal cancer is the most preventable cancer,” Stenhouse said. “But we haven’t made a significant dent in the mortality rate – which is unfortunate, because with early detection nine out of 10 people will survive it.”
Cologuard is envisioned as a replacement for colonoscopies in individuals over 50 years old with an average risk of colorectal cancer. That means about 85 million people are potential Cologuard users.
Cologuard, Exact Sciences’ only approved product, was greenlighted by the FDA in August 2014 and hit the market later that year. In the second quarter of 2018, Exact Sciences reported $102.9 million in revenue, a 78% increase over 2017. The volume of Cologuard tests rose 59% compared to the year-ago period.
“We have such a large opportunity, with 85 million people in the screening population,” Stenhouse said. “While Pfizer is a large presence in the pharma space, Exact Sciences is the premier company in molecular diagnostics. This is a natural marriage between two great sales forces.”