Roche keeps up DTC on Boniva while others cut

Marketing osteoporosis drugs has grown more complicated since Merck's Fosamax went off patent a couple years ago. Now that there are low-cost alternatives to branded bisphosphonate treatments, drugmakers are cutting their spending on direct-to-consumer ads--but some are cutting more than others.

Novartis, for instance, cut 27 percent from its off-line DTC budget supporting Reclast, spending $43 million in the 12 months ended October 2010 compared with $63 million for the same period a year earlier, Medical Marketing & Media reports. Warner Chilcott sliced its ad budget for Actonel by 63 percent, to $24 million from $65 million.

Roche, however, mostly kept up the spending on Boniva, with its familiar Sally Field advertising campaign. The company cut 4 percent from offline DTC, spending $73 million compared with $76 million the previous year. With the second-largest bone-treatment budget, Novartis spent $43 million in support of its once-yearly infusion Reclast.

The results? Roche's Boniva efforts helped keep sales from falling much, MM&M reports, but Chilcott's Actonel products beat out all comers with nearly $600 million for that same 12-month period. Boniva sales came in at $489 million for the same period, while Novartis reported combined Reclast and Aclasta sales of $579 million for the 2010 calendar year.

- read the MM&M piece