Diabetics name Takeda Actos as top-of-mind brand, though outspent by Merck

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Patients who mention a branded drug as their top-of-mind type 2 diabetes therapy, 37 percent mention Takeda’s Actos compared with 18 percent and 10 percent of patients who say the same for Byetta and Januvia, respectively, according to a survey released by Decision Resources, a market research firm.

Patient perceptions of a top-of-mind brand is generally reflective of the proportionate marketing budget that a company devotes to television and other direct-to-consumer advertising.

The new report, “Brands & Strategies: Non-Insulin Antidiabetics” finds that Merck’s marketing budget for Januvia has focused primarily on physicians and only a small portion of the budget has been devoted to direct-to-consumer advertising.

The firms said that Merck has invested a great deal of promotional spending on samples and professional contact in the promotion of Januvia to physicians. According to the report, in 2007, Merck spent 72 percent of their total U.S. promotional campaign on samples, and 27 percent of total U.S. promotional was spent on professional contact in the type 2 diabetes market.

Decision Resources found that this spending shows that Merck places a great deal of emphasis on the strategy to encourage physician acceptance of Januvia and its favorable attributes, including low risk of hypoglycemia and good tolerability. At the company level, this strategy has been effective; physicians ranked Merck as "the best" company to market type 2 diabetes therapies.

“We expect that in the future, Takeda will decrease its marketing spend on Actos as the brand nears the end of its life cycle with ensuing genericization, while Merck will increase its spend on Januvia given its recent launch on the market," said Marcus Bain, analyst at Decision Resources. "We believe that Merck’s expanded investment in 2008 in its multi-channel systems including websites, television and video capabilities will enable Merck to effectively market Januvia to its customers.”