The U.S. multiple sclerosis (MS) market topped $4.7 billion
in 2008, bolstered by sales of disease-modifying biologic agents that carry a
high price tag but are in high demand owing to their effect on disability and
the rate of relapse for MS patients. The market leaders, Biogen Idec’s Avonex
and Teva’s Copaxone, accounted for more than 60% of sales in 2008, and they are
firmly entrenched as early-line treatment options for patient with mild or
moderate disease. However, highly anticipated oral disease-modifying agents,
including Merck Serono/EMD Serono’s oral cladribine and Novartis/Mitsubishi
Tanabe’s FTY-720 (fingolimod), are expected to launch in the next two years. It
is expected that these agents will alter neurologists’ prescribing habits and
the requests of the highly educated and informed MS patient population. As
neurologists shift prescribing of currently available agents and additional new
agents enter the market, brand teams, marketers, and sales teams should know the attributes that drive brand
perception and messages that resonate with both consumers and physicians to manage and grow their MS
The Brand Perception Series presents a comprehensive
view of the current brand landscape using insight from 101 surveyed neurologists and 253 surveyed patients.
This series examines the factors that drive brand perception and message
resonance to help teams build targeted campaigns that achieve maximum return.
Questions Answered in This Report:
patients who currently take or have previously taken Avonex have a low overall
perception of the brand, ranking it fifth overall among five MS brands in our
survey. What factors drive patients’ negative perception of Biogen Idec’s
Avonex? Where can the brand improve its perception among the patient
population? How does neurologists’ perception of Avonex compare with that of
- Survey data indicate that neurologists perceive Merck
Serono/Pfizer’s Rebif and Bayer HealthCare’s Betaseron similarly across the
most important drug attributes and that these physicians use a second tier of
attributes to differentiate the brands. What specific attributes differentiate
Rebif and Betaseron? What is the advantage of each agent in the minds of neurologists?
- Surveyed neurologists who currently prescribe Copaxone are
more loyal to the brand than other MS brands despite less satisfaction with the
efficacy of the agent. How loyal are neurologists to other MS brands? What
percentage of neurologists plan to stop prescribing each of the leading MS
brands in the next year and why? How do surveyed MS patients predict their use of leading MS brands will change
over the next year? To what extent does physician and patient loyalty correlate
with overall perception for each brand?
- Surveyed patients rank Avonex’s website messages highlighting an
“effective” therapy as the most appealing MS brand messages. What specific
characteristics drive message resonance among MS patients; do neurologists
value a different type of brand message? Which brands are getting the most
patient requests and does this correlate with message resonance or promotional
- The majority of surveyed neurologists cannot remember a specific MS
brand message unaided. Survey results indicate neurologists can readily
associate Tysabri with its physician-targeted messaging concerning a “67%
relative reduction in relapse rate.” What factors drive strong message
resonance and recall among the neurologists? When neurologists and patients incorrectly identify a brand message, are
certain brands more likely to get the credit? Are there opportunities to
message MS brands more effectively
to a highly informed and educated patient population? What are the most
important attributes to message against for emerging agents?
Primary physician research: Quantitative results from
our survey of 101 U.S. neurologists.
Surveyed physicians have been in practice a minimum of two years post-residency
(17 years, on average). Surveyed neurologists treat an average of 56 patients
per month (with a minimum of 15 multiple sclerosis cases per month). Physician
survey collection dates: July 30 to August 1, 2009.
Primary patient research: Quantitative results from
our survey of 253 U.S. patients. All surveyed patients report they have been
diagnosed with multiple sclerosis by a physician. Surveyed patients were
between the ages of 20 and 80, with a mean age of 47. Surveyed patients have
been receiving treatment for MS for an average of 9.9 years. Patient survey collection
dates: July 30 and July 31, 2009.
Key Brands Included in the Surveys and Analysis: Avonex,
Betaseron, Copaxone, Rebif, Tysabri.