THE BIG PITCH: In light of emerging competition, how should Pfizer conduct PR for Viagra?

BARBARA BOX, Senior Vice President, Group Director, Healthcare Practice, Golin/Harris International, Chicago

BARBARA BOX, Senior Vice President, Group Director, Healthcare Practice, Golin/Harris International, Chicago

BARBARA BOX, Senior Vice President, Group Director, Healthcare Practice, Golin/Harris International, Chicago

Viagra must be positioned not just as a treatment for a condition, but also as conditional to satisfying and fulfilling relationships. One avenue would be to develop an ownable platform that reinforces the lifestyle benefits of Viagra. The drug has been responsible for revitalizing the psyches - and ultimately the intimate relationships - of millions of men and, by extension, millions of women. This invaluable quality-of-life benefit can be illustrated and reinforced through patient testimonials, sponsorships, third-party partnerships, surveys and interactive communications that can be linked to Viagra.



NANCY BACHER LONG, PR Director, Dorland Sweeney Jones Health Communications, Philadelphia

With skepticism growing about the safety of new drugs - including potential competitors in this market - physicians and patients will be more interested in proven efficacy and safety and less inclined to prescribe or take newly approved drugs. Pfizer should now move away from positioning Viagra as a lifestyle drug and focus on the breadth of its clinical data to affirm its spot as the 'gold standard' in the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED). As the market leader, Pfizer can now broaden its educational and promotional efforts targeting specific age and ethnic groups, or people with various medical conditions that may cause ED. Finally, with patients and providers now familiar and comfortable with Viagra, Pfizer has the opportunity to use feedback in a comprehensive relationship marketing program that will position the company as concerned with the well-being of patients and their healthcare providers and help to refine messages for future communications programs.



MARYBETH BELSITO, Principal, Belsito Communications, New York

After a breathtaking start and continued domination, Viagra needs to defend its market share by aggressively casting doubt on the purported advantages of upcoming competitors. Both Bayer and Eli Lilly will have the marketing power and financial resources to go head-to-head with Pfizer (and one could wager a bet that Lilly will leverage its expertise in women's health to help drive the market as well). If Tap's Uprima is second to market, the drug's association with nausea, fainting and alcohol interactions doesn't bode well for intimacy - a fact that should be leveraged in communication strategies. The key for Viagra is to grow the market by continuing to legitimize ED while positioning Viagra as a product to enhance sexual health, and to continue to overcome physician reluctance to initiate a dialogue on sexual health with their young as well as older male patients.



CARYL ROSNER, Senior VP, Health & Medical Practice, Ogilvy PR, San Francisco, CA

Pfizer is in an excellent position to leverage its first-to-market advantage by reaffirming to key audiences that Viagra is the leader in ED treatment. Pfizer should also maintain its consumer outreach to varied yet targeted demographics beyond older white men, perhaps building third-party relationships among male and female organizations If competitors' products are still in the trial phase, they are likely to be more than a year from gaining FDA approval. At this stage of the product life cycle, competitors are likely to focus on communicating new research information and results at scientific meetings. Therefore, Pfizer should maintain a high level of visibility in physician and scientific communications. Pfizer can leverage its research of Viagra in women and any other post-launch trials demonstrating Viagra's efficacy, safety and ease of use.





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