Brand Perception Series

August 2010

Brand Perception Series: Physician Segmentation in Multiple Sclerosis

Report Authors
Cindy Fung, Ph.D.


An analysis of primary research conducted with 232 U.S. neurologists reveals three key segments of physicians who treat multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, differentiated by the clinical and commercial attributes that drive their prescribing behavior. Understanding the demographic, practice-based, and behavioral preferences among these physician segments will help brand teams with current and emerging agents identify areas of opportunity to promote brand uptake.

In 2010, sales of drugs for MS will surpass $5 billion in the United States, with sales of Teva’s Copaxone and drugs from the recombinant interferon-beta class accounting for 88% of the market. Despite advances in the treatment of MS, significant commercial opportunity remains for new therapies that offer improvements in efficacy, safety, and/or convenience. The entrance of five new oral therapies by 2013 will be a key driver of growth in the MS market, although all of these agents have drawbacks in efficacy and/or safety. Primary segmentation research identifies the key physician segments that will most likely adopt emerging MS agents and offers insights into positioning emerging brands among established competitors based on the attributes that drive physicians’ MS brand choice.

The Brand Perception Series: Physician Segmentation in Multiple Sclerosis presents a granular analysis of the current MS brand landscape using primary survey data from 232 U.S. neurologists. Based on the derived importance of 16 drug attributes, the report identifies three key physician groups, each populated with individuals who have like-minded prescribing attitudes, and examines the factors that drive brand satisfaction, loyalty, and use across unique physician segments to help brand teams build targeted campaigns that achieve maximum return.

Questions Answered in This Report:

  *   Key Opportunities in Physician Segments:
- We expect five oral agents to be approved for MS by 2013. The two agents competing to be first to market are Novartis/Mitsubishi Tanabe’s FTY-720 (fingolimod, Gilenia) and Merck Serono/EMD Serono’s oral cladribine. The three other oral therapies are Biogen Idec’s BG-12, Teva/Active Biotech’s laquinimod, and Sanofi-Aventis’s teriflunomide. Which emerging oral agent has garnered the most physician awareness? What percentage of physicians plans to prescribe each of these emerging agents, if approved? What are the specific demographic and behavioral characteristics of the physician segments that are most likely to prescribe each oral agent? What is the profile of the typical MS patient who will receive each oral agent?
- Genzyme/Bayer HealthCare/Bayer Schering’s alemtuzumab demonstrated robust efficacy in Phase II MS trials, although it was associated with severe side effects. Do physicians believe there is a need for additional monoclonal antibody therapies, despite the severe safety risks associated with Biogen Idec/Elan’s Tysabri? Which segment of physicians is most likely to consider alemtuzumab’s convenient once-yearly dosing for patients who desire a different dosing schedule? Which segment will be most wary of alemtuzumab’s severe side-effect profile?

  *   Perceptions of Current and Emerging Brands:
- Survey results show Biogen Idec’s Avonex is the top current brand for familiarity-driven physicians. Which group of physicians has the best overall perception of other drugs in the recombinant interferon-beta class—Bayer Schering/Bayer HealthCare’s Betaseron, Merck Serono/EMD Serono/Pfizer’s Rebif, and Novartis’s Extavia? On what clinical and commercial attributes do neurologists differentiate the recombinant interferon-beta therapies currently on the market?
- Survey data indicate that Copaxone is the top-of-mind brand for safety among surveyed physicians. Which physician segment has the most favorable overall perception of Copaxone? With which brand attributes are physicians most satisfied and dissatisfied? What specific attributes differentiate Copaxone from the recombinant interferon-betas?


Primary Physician Research: Quantitative results from our survey of 232 U.S. neurologists. Surveyed physicians have been in practice a minimum of two years. Surveyed neurologists treat an average of 50 patients per month (with a minimum of 15 MS patients per month). Physician survey collection dates: May 4 to May 9, 2010.

Key Brands Included in the Surveys and Analysis: Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone, Extavia, Rebif, mitoxantrone, and Tysabri.

Key Emerging Agents Included in the Survey and Analysis: Alemtuzumab, BG-12, Facet Biotech/Abbott Laboratories/Biogen Idec’s daclizumab, FTY-720, laquinimod, oral cladribine, Biogen Idec’s pegylated interferon-beta-1a, and teriflunomide.

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