Blood pressure drug puts Merck Sharp & Dohme top

Merck Sharp & Dohme’s Cozaar achieved the highest level of awareness among GPs out of eight drugs to combat high blood pressure in PRWeek’s Pharma Focus.

AstraZeneca/Takeda’s Amias, Novartis’s Diovan and BMS/Sanofi’s Aprovel also achieved very high awareness ratings among doctors, the poll, conducted for PRWeek by NOP Healthcare, showed.

NOP surveyed 200 GPs via GP Net, an online service, to rank drugs for specific medical conditions by brand awareness among GPs.

The three most established brands in the market, Cozaar, Amias and Diovan, had the highest awareness. Cozaar achieved 97 per cent. For the two drugs outside the top six, only 17 per cent of respondents were aware of the newest, Sankyo’s Olmetec, launched this summer, while Solvay’s Teveten achieved 26 per cent awareness, despite being introduced in May 2000.

The medical representative was the most frequently cited source of awareness for all but one of the products profiled. The exception was Olmetec, where NOP found slightly more respondents attributing awareness to advertisements in medical journals.

Articles in medical journals were most important for Cozaar with 25 per cent of doctors aware of it as a result of such write-ups.

Amias fared the best in terms of GP perceptions of the information received: 64 per cent described their recall of such information as generally positive. Over 61 per cent of GPs had positive recall of data on Cozaar. Teveten performed poorly in this respect, with only five per cent of GPs describing data as positive.

Promotional messages for Cozaar were the most successful in persuading GPs to prescribe it, with 49 per cent saying they were more likely to prescibe the drug as a result of promotional messages. Over 45 per cent also said the information was believable, credible and relevant. A similar proportion also regarded it as more relevant than data on other products.

NOP Healthcare drug research and analysis director Gary King said: ‘The high recall and positive perceptions of Cozaar’s promotional messages may have been helped by positive results from a recent major clinical trial, which clearly demonstrated the benefits of Cozaar over atenolol – a well-established product for lowering blood pressure – in reducing heart disease.’

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