Starting with the name Phexxi, Evofem Biosciences wants women to know it's a different kind of birth control. The new non-hormonal birth control rhymes with "sexy" and uses “pH” to announce what it does and “xx” to show it’s for women.
Despite the playful approach, Phexxi is a serious contender in the contraception market. With an FDA nod in May, it’s a first-to-market non-hormonal prescription contraceptive gel. With an efficacy of 93% when used properly, Phexxi's effectiveness is on par with traditional hormonal options.
The gel applicator is inserted in a similar manner to a tampon and keeps vaginal pH within its usual range of 3.5 to 4.5 acidity, which also happens to be unfavorable to sperm. Like tampons, Phexxi will be packaged in a box with a dozen individually wrapped applicators.
“We think that we have brought something to the market that will be a game-changer," Evofem Chief Commercial Officer Russ Barrans said. " … Up to this point, a woman who wanted an on-demand non-hormone option has really had no other prescription options.”
Evofem market research identified 21 million women who have stopped using hormonal birth control mostly because of side effects and fears around future fertility. That’s the audience Phexxi is targeting with its launch.
Phexxi marketing resides mostly on millennial hotspots Instagram and Facebook for now, although there are plans to expand into other lifestyle multichannel media.
Evofem will run Pandora ads and use social influencers—such as Dr. Charis Chambers, an OBGYN also known as “The Period Doctor”—to reach women. The company decided against the celebrity route for now, as Barrans said people only follow them because they are celebs. Phexxi influencers instead truly represent the target audience, he said.
Evofem also incorporates telehealth with the Phexxi Concierge Experience. Women can opt to bypass their regular physician and instead seek a prescription through Phexxi’s online partner. With a click through from the Populus partner link, women take a short survey and if qualified, they can get prescriptions with both home delivery and pharmacy pick-up options.
Although the launch is happening smack in the middle of a global pandemic, Barrans is unphased.
“I want us to be a Harvard Business Review case study on 'how do you launch in the middle of a pandemic and be successful?'” he said.
While Phexxi is Evofem’s first approved product, the company has several female-focused therapies in its pipeline, including products for STD prevention and to halt recurring bacterial vaginosis.