Purdue, Transcept roll out DTC blitz for Intermezzo

What to do when a new drug isn't catching on the way you'd like? Mount an advertising-and-promotional blitz, of course. That's what partners Transcept Pharmaceuticals ($TSPT) and Purdue Pharma are planning for their new insomnia drug Intermezzo, which has languished since its debut in April.

The companies will plow $29 million into direct-to-consumer ads in print, on television and online, the San Francisco Business Times reports. Plus, Purdue will use its 525 analgesic sales reps to push Intermezzo to primary care doctors, while 90 contract reps will focus on specialists.

"It's almost a re-launch of the product," Transcept CEO Glenn Oclassen said in a conference call with analysts. "You've got an increase in sales coverage but there's a whole new factor with the DTC aspect of this."

Analysts are expecting peak sales of some $500 million for Intermezzo, which is designed for people who wake in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep. But so far, the drug hasn't taken off. Transcept collected royalty revenue of $500,000 for the drug's first quarter-plus on the market; for the next quarter, those royalties dropped to $200,000.

Of course that's just a percentage of overall sales--somewhere in the teens, according to the company's collaboration agreement with Purdue--but at that rate, the total can't be very impressive. As Oclassen said during the call, Intermezzo sales have "not yet lived up to potential." We'll have to wait and see whether the ad-and-sales campaign moves that needle.

- see the release from Transcept
- get more from the Business Times