Horizon targets points of care to triumph over generic RA rivals

Waiting room

Patients don’t go running to the doctor the moment they see a DTC ad on television. On the contrary, it normally takes multiple views for them to absorb the message from an ad and take action on it.

But what if you’re a small company that can’t afford to shell out on heavy promo--especially in a large market with lots of competition?

Horizon Pharma had an idea.

The Illinois drugmaker moved to point-of-care marketing for rheumatoid arthritis therapy Rayos and osteoarthritis remedy Vimovo--but only in certain, targeted doctor’s offices. The idea: Go into practices called on by Horizon reps--where physicians already know about the drugs and have samples and copay cards on hand--and deliver a solution-oriented message to patients in the waiting room.

“It’s not about brand awareness--no one knows what Rayos is,” Horizon marketing director Claire Priestas told an audience at this year’s DTC National Conference in Boston. But if you’re an RA patient, “you probably do know that you have morning stiffness,” which makes that solution-driven piece important.

Horizon’s attempt to “shorten the distance between the patient getting the message and their ability and their attention to act on it” proved effective, too, she said.

How effective? The company netted a 14-to-1 return on its Rayos investment, according to Priestas--and while the company hasn’t had a chance to round up final data on a similar run-through with Vimovo, indicators such as web traffic suggest that Horizon’s marketing spend is paying off there, too.

Of course, there are other pieces to the puzzle, too, Jeff Bagull, executive director of marketing, said at the conference. Horizon also had to communicate the access and affordability of its drugs and “make patients comfortable with the fact that there won’t be any hassles” around reimbursement and that “copays are affordable.”

Horizon, like many of its specialty pharma peers, has kept its drugs affordable for patients through the use of specialty pharmacies. That doesn’t mean they’re affordable for payers, though, and some of them--including Express Scripts, which last November froze out Horizon-linked Linden Care--have, as a result, begun cracking down on the specialty pharmacy strategy.

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