Pharma Franchise Strategy

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Case Studies: Pharma Franchise Strategy

Below is an overview on each of the four pharmaceuticals included, which details their revenue as top brands in the United States (as it pertains to 2016), as well as the multitude of conditions they treat. Zoloft has been included due to their success in the 1990s and early 2000s before a generic brand became available.

After the overview of each drug, I’ve included a holistic look at all five drugs and their subsequent advertising campaigns (mainly TV commercials), as there is a common trend among them all. It is important to note that all five websites that correlate to these drugs give the patient the option to choose their condition right from the site, either through a drop-down menu or through links directly on the homepage. These commercials/advertisements have been included as sources.

Please note, no apparent trends in messaging and taglines among the pharmaceuticals could be found, specifically as it relates to something mentioning their treatment of numerous conditions. Further, through looking at the examples of Humira and Cymbalta, it appears they too do not have taglines that encompass every condition, but rather target their audiences based on the conditions they treat. Cymbalta is best known for their tagline "depression hurts", targeted at those experiencing depression symptoms.


Lyrica (pregabalin) is a drug used to treat numerous components of damaged nerves. Lyrica promotes their drug by classifying its uses for the following conditions: Fibromyalgia Diabetic Nerve Pain Spinal Cord Injury Nerve Pain Pain After Shingles Partial Onset Seizures in Adults (An Add-On Treatment) Part of the Pfizer pharmaceutical corporation, Lyrica was a top 10 Pfizer seller in 2016, with a revenue of $4.966 billion USD. Within each condition that Lyrica treats, they list clinical study results on their website. These results detail the success of the medication and what patients can expect should their doctor prescribe Lyrica. For example, looking at fibromyalgia, they have a tool that will take you through a 6-week process of starting the medication so you can learn what to expect each step of the way. In weeks 3-4, patients should speak to their doctor about any side effects they are experiencing and the doctor will verify that the dosage of the medication is correct for their condition. Dependent on the condition it treats, Lyrica focuses their target primarily around one gender, e.g. the fibromyalgia pictures. TV commercials and other examples are focused on women, while most of the diabetic nerve pain treatment is centered on men. Further, there are instances of quotes from real Lyrica users throughout the website which adds authenticity to their name.


Remicade (infliximab) is a drug used to treat multiple conditions in the categories of Gastroenterology, Rheumatology, and Dermatology:

Gastroenterology: Crohn’s Disease Pediatric Crohn’s Disease Ulcerative Colitis Pediatric Ulcerative Colitis Rheumatology: Rheumatoid Arthritis Psoriatic Arthritis Ankylosing Spondylitis Dermatology: Plaque Psoriasis Remicade is part of the Johnson & Johnson family, and was number 5 in the list of top-selling medications in 2016. Note — both Johnson & Johnson and the company Merck offer Remicade, and revenues are reported separately, as well as holistically. 2016: $7.829 billion ($6.561 billion Johnson & Johnson, $1.268 billion Merck). Similar to Lyrica’s quotes from real patients using their medication, Remicade goes a step further and provides video interviews with individuals who have seen success with their medication. These are categorized as their Remicade Experience Videos”.


Rituxan (rituximab) is sponsored by both Roche (Genentech) and Biogen, and is used for the following conditions: Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA) & Microscopic Polyangiitis (MPA) In 2016, Rituxan was the 4th best-selling pharmaceutical, with a holistic revenue report of $8.583 billion ($7.268 billion Roche, $1.315 billion Biogen). Throughout their website, they educate potential patients on what they can expect should their doctor prescribe Rituxan. They offer support for the conditions they treat through call centers, as well as real-life experience from patients taking Rituxan.


Enbrel (etanercept) is sponsored by Pfizer and Amgen and was the third best-selling pharmaceutical of 2016. Treatments include: Rheumatoid Arthritis (moderate to severe) Plaque Psoriasis (moderate to severe) Psoriatic Arthritis Ankylosing Spondylitis Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (moderate to severe polyarticular)
In 2016, Enbrel reported $8.874 billion in revenue ($5.965 billion Amgen, $2.909 billion Pfizer). Throughout their website, they offer simulators for patients to understand further what they are experiencing (e.g. Joint Damage Simulator). Each condition Enbrel treats includes extensive information for patients, including side effects, when to expect results, and stories from patients through videos.


While not a recent example, I thought it was relevant to include, considering the success Zoloft saw in the 1990s and early 2000s for their treatment of numerous conditions: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) — in both children and adults Panic Disorder Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Social Anxiety Disorder Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) Zoloft is known for their campaigns that featured the “sad blob”, who became happier and healthier after taking Zoloft. Since it became available on the market in 1991, it has been prescribed to more than 100 million people in the United States (through 2015). Before it became available as a generic, Zoloft had generated more than $3 billion in sales through 2005. In 2005, Science Magazine named Zoloft as one of their 19 “blockbuster” drugs, which included other pharmaceuticals like Celebrex, Lipitor, and Nexium.


Commercials for Lyrica, Remicade, Enbrel, and Zoloft, and print advertisements for Rituxan are Included as examples of advertising trends. In each instance, the pharmaceutical is focused on one condition (e.g. Lyrica has separate commercials for fibromyalgia and onset seizures in adults). In each case, the drug is marketed to show an improvement in everyday life of the individual, specifically how their life isn’t full without the drug, but as they begin taking it, their whole outlook improves. Further, each advertisement shows the “patients” interacting with family and friends, or doing activities that become easier with the medication (e.g. golf or playing in a fort with your kids).
Through showing an improved lifestyle with the use of the medication, each of these brands is showing that they can help you feel better about everyday life, e.g. “the little things”. Further, by targeting specific audiences with each condition, they are able to drill down to the correct individuals to lead them to the treatment of their condition. This is done with Rituxan targeting men with rheumatoid arthritis by placing advertisements in a golf magazine, or how Lyrica is targeting women with children to show them how they can do more physical activities with their children if they can treat their chronic pain.

Enbrel took this personalization one step further and found a celebrity (Phil Mickelson) to utilize as an influencer of the medication for psoriatic arthritis. His daughter narrates the TV commercial, and they successfully take an accomplished golfer and celebrity in the sport and trim him down to an everyday man and dad, who has made his life better through Enbrel.


Lyrica, Remicade, Rituxan, and Enbrel are all current top-selling pharmaceuticals (as of 2016 data), that utilize a franchise strategy to promote the numerous conditions they treat. In each instance, the drug's website offers drop-down menus or direct links with information that pertains to each specific condition. Further, the advertising among these brands shows that they target their audience based on the conditions they treat (rather than a holistic look at every condition at once). These advertisements tend to show individuals living less-than-full lives that improve through the use of the appropriate drug. Zoloft was included as a reference to a successful franchise strategy from the 1990s and early 2000s.