Mylan didn't just shell out for TV ads as EpiPen prices soared. Search spend was way up, too

EpiPen

It’s no secret that even as Mylan hiked the price of its EpiPen anaphylaxis auto-injectors, it was also pouring millions into a new TV ad campaign. But new data shows that Mylan was pumping up search engine spending, too.

Mylan ($MYL) hiked up its paid search engine advertising for EpiPen.com by 1,800% in April and May, said search marketing insight firm AdGooroo, a Kantar Media company. It estimates that EpiPen.com spent an average of $311,000 those two months, compared with a monthly average of only $16,000 from January through March--and $35,000 monthly from January through May of 2015.

The search-ad numbers further illustrate Mylan's intensive spending on its EpiPen brand and anaphylaxis awareness campaigns. The company shelled out and worked hard to build EpiPen's profile in the marketplace. Coupled with the company's repeated price increases, its EpiPen marketing program built the epinephrine injector into a blockbuster product accounting for 20% of the company's revenue.

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Here's the likely reason for Mylan's search-ad push. Mylan launched a major marketing and advertising campaign focused on disease awareness for anaphylaxis, including a TV commercial, at the end of April. Incorporating search engine buys along with a TV campaign is a common strategy for marketers.

The thinking goes like this: Potential customers see an ad on TV, go to their smartphones and type a word or brand into Google search to find out more. Why not place an ad linked to allergy keywords?

In this case, AdGooroo said Mylan’s paid search ads for April and May “focused on educating the public on symptoms of severe allergic reactions, insect bites and anaphylaxis.” That's exactly what the larger ad campaign was all about.

“From January through March, their paid search ads were very similar to those we noted seeing (again) in July," AdGooroo said. During those months, Mylan used a generic promotion for the EpiPen website and highlighted its $0 co-pay discount card.

"[T]heir creative changed in April and May to promote allergic reaction symptoms, insect bites/stings and anaphylaxis,” an AdGooroo spokesman told FiercePharmaMarketing in an email.

The anaphylaxis TV awareness campaign, which had spent more than $14 million since launch in April, has stalled since the EpiPen price controversy began a few weeks ago, with no TV airings. Notably, Mylan's search engine ad buys also changed.

AdGooroo wrote the following on its blog: “When last we checked on September 1, the manufacturer’s ads had become more explicit in promoting cost savings, adding ‘Savings Card Offer’ to the headline.”

Defending itself amid the EpiPen pricing brouhaha, Mylan announced at the end of August that it would increase its co-pay card benefits to $300 from $100. The company also said it would begin selling a generic version of the EpiPen at $300 for a twin-pack.

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