Mylan leverages marketing savvy, price hikes to make EpiPen a go-to med

Mylan ($MYL) has been pumping up its EpiPen marketing on multiple fronts, helping make it the go-to therapy for those with severe allergic reactions. But now, with new rivals advancing, the company will be relying on its years of branding to help it weather the competitive storm.

Lately, the company has been doubling down on its efforts to push the drug with consumers, beefing up its Disney ($DIS) partnership with the launch of informational website and setting up EpiPen locations on Disney's parks and cruise ships.

But the Netherlands-based drugmaker has also been working on another type of campaign, too--and that's legislative. Mylan helped shepherd through legislation that made EpiPen "a mainstay" in schools, and that helped the brand gain awareness among parents with severely allergic children, Businessweek reporter Cynthia Koons said in an interview on Bloomberg TV.

Price hikes have also helped EpiPen become king of the hill. Mylan has upped the sticker on its drug as it's become more prominent, recording a 222% price increase between 2007 and 2014. When you take into account that many parents buy multiple pens for their children--that come in packs of two and expire each year--"they really have a captive audience," Koons said.

But that may not be the case forever if competitors can gain steam. In 2013, Sanofi ($SNY) hit the market with Auvi-Q, a rectangle-shaped product that issues automated voice instructions to help users with injections. Allergists are "quite positive" about the newcomer, and it's picked up a lot of ground already on the insurance coverage front," Koons pointed out. Now, it's just a matter of marketing the product and expanding awareness, and marketers at Sanofi are "probably having to take their cues from Mylan," she said.

Then, there's the copycat that generics giant Teva ($TEVA) is trying to get past the FDA--and that's potentially the "big risk" for Mylan, Koons said. But it's all a matter of whether the agency deems Teva's version directly substitutable for Mylan's brand. If it doesn't, "it's not necessarily going to be the competitive threat that it would be," Koons noted.

- watch the interview

Special Report: 10 big brands keep pumping out big bucks, with a little help from price hikes - EpiPen -- Mylan