Drug name: Brilinta
Use: Antiplatelet therapy to prevent blood clots
Amount spent on doctor payments: $7.71 million
Brilinta isn't a brand-new drug. But it has a renewed mission. Approved in July 2011, the drug was still languishing when AstraZeneca ($AZN) CEO Pascal Soriot took up the reins in October 2012. Soriot quickly deemed Brilinta a growth prospect and started plowing money and staff into proving himself right. The company put up consumer advertising, put more reps in the field and--as ProPublica statistics show--amped up their physician speaking programs on behalf of the drug. The company spent $7.7 million on speaking fees for the last 5 months of 2013, according to payment data filed with the U.S. government.
Brilinta did deliver $283 million in 2013 sales, more than three times its 2012 total. A bunch of that growth took place in Europe, but Soriot said at the time that European growth showed what Brilinta could do in the U.S. For 2014, the drug brought in $476 million, a 70% increase.
The company had to call a halt to Brilinta promotions in late 2013, after the Department of Justice announced a marketing investigation, focusing on a particular study called PLATO. Last August, the government said it had wrapped up its probe and didn't plan to take any action; that allowed AZ to rev up U.S. marketing again. In January, the company announced positive results from a new study, PEGASUS, that it hopes to parlay into a big market expansion for the drug. -- Tracy Staton (email | Twitter)
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