Marketing Benefits In Selling Orphan Drugs

Most pharmaceutical companies that market their own products can benefit from also marketing orphan drugs, for the following reasons:

1. Sales representatives can use orphan drugs as an entrée to see physicians. In this busy world, physicians want new and important medical information and are less willing than previously to see sales representatives.

2. Products can be bundled more easily as comprehensive portfolios in a given therapeutic area. Several companies that have merged in recent years initially considered divesting or dropping some of the smaller products from the portfolio. However, they soon realized that there was value in even these smaller products, and that the sum of their value was much greater than the sum of their sales, particularly if the company approached managed care or other groups (with formularies) with a wide selection of products.

3. The company will probably enhance its image through development of drugs for rare diseases. Reporters can easily write heartwarming stories of patients with rare diseases who are helped by orphan drugs; word of mouth and other public relations methods can also disseminate such information.

Note that companies seeking an orphan approval, while hoping (or even encouraging) off-label use for a more common disease are usually treated to strong regulatory backlash.

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