Who needs a hard switch? Namenda XR ad campaign is already bolstering conversions

Actavis ($ACT) may have lost its court bid to "hard switch" original Namenda users to Namenda XR, but that's all the more reason to continue its aggressive marketing of the newer one-a-day Alzheimer's pill.

According to iSpot data, the first TV ad in the new Namenda XR campaign, "Be A Guardian," began airing in early January and has tallied an estimated $18.6 million in media spending through mid-May, although it is currently running minimally. The current TV campaign began after the first injunction blocked Actavis from yanking the original Namenda off the market.

Two subsequent DTC spots--"Her Best Friend" and "His Sunshine"--began in early March, and have added another $11.8 million in media spending with both still in steady rotation. The two spots have appeared during shows including "Law & Order" and "The Voice," as well as network nightly news programs and the DIY Network, according to iSpot. Print ads have also run in magazines--including People, Family Circle, Health and AARP--over the past few months, according to Actavis' employee news site.

But that's been the plan all along. An Actavis press release in December about the injunction noted the company was readying marketing materials for Namenda XR and was planning "the launch of a direct-to-consumer advertising campaign on January 5."

The TV and print campaign, along with ongoing sales efforts directly to doctors and healthcare providers, seems to be working.

Actavis noted last June that conversion from the original Namenda to XR was trending at around 40%. Just this week, Actavis said Namenda XR is "currently trending at more than 50% of the total product line's days of therapy and growing." Actavis also re-iterated this week its intent to manage costs so that the "hard switch" loss would not affect 2015 Namenda franchise sales. The original Namenda goes off patent this summer.

And then there's the latest addition to Actavis' Alzheimer's line-up, Namzaric, which just became available in the U.S. last week. Developed with Adamas, Namzaric combines two drugs commonly prescribed together for moderate to severe Alzheimer's patients--Namenda XR and donepezil--into one pill. No word on a Namzaric ad campaign yet, but stay tuned.

- check out the Namenda XR commercials at iSpot

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