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The Saatchi & Saatchi Award for Launch Excellence

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From ‘Blanket Approach’ to Personalization. How Zelboraf changed metastatic melanoma

by Roche with support from VCCP Health

Summary of work

Winner: by Roche with support from VCCP Health

Roche’s 2012 global (ex-US) launch of Zelboraf (vemurafenib) represented a potential watershed in metastatic melanoma (mM). Zelboraf is indicated for mM patients with a specific BRAFV600 genetic mutation. It was set to completely change the way physicians treated and thought about mM by significantly improving all measures of efficacy in these pre-selected patients.

After decades of stagnation and despair in mM research and development it was left as a bleak diagnosis with poorer prognoses. Physicians were ready for advancements but understandably cautious of them. Thirty six years passed with little improvement in to patients’ outcomes – in 2011 five-year survival was still only 5-10 per cent.

However, despite clear advantages, several barriers stood in the way of a successful launch – the negative and uninspiring perception of mM, the difficulty of establishing a new routine diagnostic test, achieving reimbursement and stiff competition. After years of waiting, a competing therapy launched just months before Zelboraf. One whose long-term efficacy exceeded that of Zelboraf in some patients hinting towards an exciting possibility – cure.

Zelboraf needed a very different approach and a break from oncology-norms to achieve a successful launch and bring about a revolution in metastatic melanoma.

Judges comments

Zelboraf is a brilliant product but even brilliant products don’t succeed without brilliant people behind them. The personalization approach and messaging for different stakeholder groups was clear and very compelling. The launch strategy was comprehensive and detailed and delivered impressive results that exceeded all targets.

Highly commended

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Key dates

Entry deadline 25 August 2023
Extended entry deadline 1 September 2023*
*additional fee applies
Judging Day 10 October 2023
Company/Team of the Year Interviews 3 November 2023
PMEA Event 22 November 2023