J&J tops 2013 journal-ad ranks with millions in print support for Invokana, Xarelto

When Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) new diabetes drug Invokana (canagliflozin) won FDA approval last April, it was the first drug in a brand-new class of Type 2 treatments. The general feeling was that doctors would need some quick education on the SGLT2 class if Invokana was to make any headway against top-selling and well-known rivals such as Sanofi's ($SNY) Lantus, Merck's ($MRK) Januvia and Novo Nordisk's ($NVO) Victoza.

Well, J&J apparently took that advice to heart. By year's end, the company had plowed $16 million into journal advertising for Invokana, according to Kantar Media statistics. That's 2,288 pages of ads. In both dollar terms and page terms, Invokana was the most-advertised brand of the year in journals. And with oral diabetes treatments only accounting for $19 million in journal-ad spending--all together--that means J&J really wanted to grab mindshare away from other diabetes pills.

That's tough to do, given the fact that more than $1 billion is spent on diabetes drug advertising every year. So far, J&J isn't saying just how well Invokana is doing out there; the drug's sales weren't reported as part of the company's year-end results, so that means they're not yet material enough to require disclosure.

Meanwhile, the drug ranked second in the journal-advertising race also happens to belong to J&J: Xarelto, the anticoagulant it developed in partnership with Bayer. Like Invokana, it's one of a new generation of treatments; unlike Invokana, it wasn't first to market. Jockeying for position with Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa, and Pfizer's and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Eliquis, Xarelto has managed to make major strides toward blockbuster territory, ending last year with $864 million in sales. J&J put $13 million into journal ads to help keep the drug running strong.

Forest Laboratories has third and fourth place, dollar-wise; since its top seller, Lexapro, went off patent, it has been sorely in need of new sales. So, it's not surprising that Forest would put some money behind Linzess, the irritable bowel and constipation drug it sells in partnership with Ironwood Pharmaceuticals; the drug accounted for $7 million worth of ads. Tudorza Pressair, Forest's new inhaled COPD treatment, got another $6 million.

The Linzess and Tudorza teams must have been buying higher-priced pubs, because other brands beat them out for most journal-ad pages. J&J's prostate cancer drug Zytiga appeared in more than 1,000 pages of advertising, for third place. It won a big new indication from the FDA last year, for first-line use in advanced prostate cancer patients. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca ($AZN), which is hoping to revive its flagging clot-fighter Brilinta, bought 918 pages of journal ads to that end. Their cost--about $6 million--put Brilinta in 5th place for journal-ad spending, rounding out the top 5.

- read the Kantar Media blog post

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