Purdue readies consumer push for insomnia drug

STAMFORD, CT: Purdue Pharma is preparing an initiative to promote insomnia drug Intermezzo directly to consumers.

STAMFORD, CT: Purdue Pharma is preparing an initiative to promote insomnia drug Intermezzo directly to consumers.  

The multifaceted campaign, which will include both earned and paid media components, will kick off at the beginning of next year. The company will unveil some elements of the online direct-to-consumer effort on MyIntermezzo.com next month.

The drug was approved about a year ago, but regulation dictates that there must be a lag between approval and direct-to-consumer outreach. In the meantime, the company has focused on healthcare providers, said Libby Holman, associate director of public affairs at Purdue.

Burson-Marsteller is supporting the initiative. Purdue will spend at least $29 million to promote the drug, but Holman declined to release a specific PR budget.

“This is first and only prescription drug for people who wake up in the night and have at least four hours of sleep time left,” she said.

In terms of media relations, the company will pitch interview opportunities with key opinion leaders on insomnia to media outlets around the country. Because of strict digital-promotion regulations, the company will forgo social media outreach, Holman said, though there will be paid ads on some digital channels.

Purdue also plans to use its analgesic sales force, which consists of 525 representatives, for the first time to promote Intermezzo to primary care prescribers and certain media specialists. The company was already promoting Intermezzo to psychiatrists and other specialty prescribers.

The drug was developed by Transcept Pharmaceuticals and is the company's first FDA-approved product. Intermezzo is being marketed in the US under the terms of a collaboration agreement between Transcept and Purdue.

There was a brief wave of consumer press about the drug earlier this year after ABC's World News ran a segment that referenced it. Burson said the coverage led one major US retailer to make a sizable purchase of the drug.  

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