Allergan rolls out third round of Linzess ads

Allergan ($AGN) has already launched two DTC campaigns for its GI med Linzess. In its third push, the company is putting patients front and center, highlighting individual stories to tout the drug's advantages over OTC therapies.

Allergan's new DTC ads feature patients who have tried and failed to find relief for irritable bowel syndrome and constipation (IBS-C) or chronic constipation by using over-the-counter therapies. "Try laxatives," one man scoffs. "Been there, done that," he says, standing in a pharmacy aisle. "My chronic constipation keeps coming back," a woman says. "I know. Tell me something I don't know." The ad ends with an orange plane flying overhead with flag with the word "proactively."

"Linzess is a way to proactively manage the condition. We've been delivering this message since launch and I believe that it's working," Allergan VP of Branded Pharma Marketing Bill Meury said. "We've converted close to 10% of the OTC market."

At least so far, the company's hard work seems to be paying off. In the last 30 days, Linzess commercials have aired 893 times, with the brand earning an airing ranking of 777 and a spend ranking of 225 compared to other advertisers, according to iSpot data.

The drug, which launched in 2012, is also raking in some serious cash for Allergan. Linzess brought in $131 million in global sales in Q4 2015. That number was "driven by strong OTC conversion momentum and enhanced presence in long-term care market," the company said in a Q4 earnings statement.

But Allergan is far from finished. About 100,000 physicians are prescribing the product now, and over the next two years that number will double, Meury predicted. "The campaign reflects the size of the category and the number of potential users," he said.

Allergan is also putting a strong sales force behind the latest DTC campaign. The company has about 1,500 reps promoting the drug to primary care physicians, gastroenterologists and long-term care facilities.

Bill Meury

Meanwhile, Allergan will continue to work on developing Linzess. The drug "has a long exclusivity period and we're developing a low-dose version and looking at new indications," Meury said. "It's a very important product for Allergan and it will continue to be an important product when we close our merger with Pfizer."

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