Astellas, Medivation to amp up unbranded Xtandi marketing for pre-chemo use

Medivation senior marketing director Gregg Bernier

Astellas and Medivation ($MDVN) haven't been marketing Xtandi much for the pre-chemotherapy indication in prostate cancer it won last fall. Begun two months ago, the direct-to-consumer efforts--mostly in print--have appeared in journals such as Patient Resource; it also includes some direct relationship marketing.

However, while we likely won't see Xtandi-branded TV ads, an unbranded prostate cancer education campaign coming later this year could include a bigger push. Gregg Bernier, senior director of marketing at Medivation, couldn't offer details, saying the unbranded work is still in the planning stages.

Xtandi's pre-chemo approval made waves in the prostate cancer world, giving Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) market-leading Zytiga its first head-to-head competition in that indication. Serious competition at that. Xtandi sales for Q1 were $357 million, with the number of scripts written up by 4,000 to 5,000 over the previous quarter. Drug sales for Xtandi topped the $1 billion mark last year, with some analysts saying Xtandi will overtake Zytiga next year.

Zytiga had a jump on marketing the pre-chemo indication, which it won in December 2012. Last year, Astellas and Medivation both bumped up their Xtandi sales forces to about 90 from 60 to address the expanded pre-chemo use with visits to urology practices beyond those that offer chemotherapy.

Bernier agreed that Zytiga is Xtandi's top competitor in the space, but added that others--such as Dendreon's Provenge and generic bicalutamide, as well as others in development--add up to a very competitive space. It's also a growing and potentially lucrative space with estimates of the prostate cancer market doubling to $9.1 billion by 2021, according to Decision Resources. Xtandi is expected to draw sales of $2.2 billion by then.

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