Merck Sharp & Dohme’s Zocor and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Lipostat also achieved high levels of awareness among GPs, according to the poll compiled exclusively for PRWeek by market research firm NOP Healthcare.
NOP surveyed 200 GPs online, via GP Net, for Pharma Focus, which ranks drugs for specific medical conditions according to brand awareness among GPs and monitors how the drugs achieved that level of recognition.
Overall, longer-established cholesterol-lowering drugs had high awareness levels (more than 95 per cent) but Novartis’s Lescol scored just 84 per cent.
The two latest market entrants – AstraZeneca’s Crestor and Merck Sharp & Dohme/Schering Plough’s Ezetrol – were recognised by 62 and 53 per cent of GPs, respectively. Crestor launched in the UK at the end of March and Ezetrol launched in April.
Medical sales representatives were the most-cited source for boosting GPs’ awareness of the products but editorial and advertising in medical journals were also important, with 50 per cent of GPs aware of Zocor after reading about the brand in medical articles.
Most GPs said that their overall impression of the information and messages they had heard about or could recall was positive.
However, the exception was Lescol, whose communications were generally described as neutral by doctors, according to NOP Healthcare drug research and analysis director Gary King.
King said the positive reception by GPs to the messages they had seen about Lipitor and Zocor were because doctors thought them believable and relevant to the therapy area. However, just two fifths of doctors surveyed considered the information about Lipostat, Crestor and Ezetrol to be believable or relevant.
Lescol’s rating on these two parameters was low, with only one fifth of GPs saying the messages they could recall were credible or relevant.
When GPs were asked if they were more likely to prescribe the drug as a result of the PR and advertising messages they had seen, Crestor and Ezetrol scored higher than Lescol, which is a more-established brand.