Pfizer's Eucrisa beats Dupixent to the DTC punch in eczema, thanks to first-to-market status

Pfizer has already spent $2.1 million on a national TV ad for its next-gen eczema med, PDE-4 blocker Eucrisa.

Pfizer’s first campaign for its new eczema drug Eucrisa kicks off with an appealing, kid-friendly "nose to toes" TV ad, but behind the lighthearted wordplay is the potential to capitalize on its first-to-market status.  

Pfizer’s Eucrisa is an early entrant in an eczema market that's about to blow up, and with the launch of this first national TV ad campaign, the drug giant may be trying to make the most of that early mover advantage. In December, Eucrisa became the first PDE-4 blocker approved to treat mild-to-moderate eczema for people ages 2 and older. Pfizer declined to comment on the campaign.

The 30-second spot, which started airing in mid-August, features children and adults who wonder whether the mild-to-moderate eczema treatment is right for “the face of a fisherman” or the “knees of a needle pointer.”

Since the ad’s debut, it has tallied more than $2.1 million in national media spending, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker

Pfizer is no stranger to national TV ad pushes; Lyrica, Xeljanz and, until recently, Viagra, are big Pfizer brands that grew up on TV campaigns. Eucrisa, however, comes at a time when Pfizer could use a boost. Downgraded first by Citigroup in May and then Credit Suisse in July, the Big Pharma has been dinged by Viagra going off patent this year and Lyrica following it next year.

Eucrisa, which Pfizer bought in a $4.5 billion acquisition of Anacor last year, has the potential to be a bright spot, and it's projected to become a blockbuster. As the first nonsteroidal PDE-4 blocker approved to treat eczema, EvaluatePharma puts Eucrisa 2022 sales at $1.3 billion due in part to that first-to-market advantage.

RELATED: Editor's Choice: Our Top 5 DTC ad picks for 2016

Other PDE-4 competitors are in the wings, working their way through earlier phase trials, including drugs from Otsuka and Mitsubishi Tanabi, but still other next-generation eczema treatments with different mechanisms are on the market or coming soon. GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis are also working on potential treatments.

A more immediate threat: Sanofi and Regeneron introduced Dupixent, an IL-4 and IL-13 blocker, for the treatment of more severe eczema cases in March. It’s expected to soar to $3 billion in annual sales. But with a six-month lag between approval and DTC ads, that drug will have to wait until September for its first chance to roll a TV campaign.

Future Market Insights predicts that the new treatments will more than blow up the atopic dermatitis market in the U.S. from sales of $7.2 billion in 2017 to $24 billion by the end of 2027.