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Smoking ban : Getting ahead of the rest

Competition between cessation brands is set to gather pace thanks to the UK's smoking ban

As products jockey for position in an increasingly competitive marketplace, marketers need to be more aware than ever of how their products and those of their rivals are perceived by GPs.

We take a closer look at how GPs view smoking cessation and COPD drugs, using results from Pharmaceutical Brand Monitor, based on minimum sample sizes of 200 interviews with GPs conducted in the first quarter of 2007.

Dynamic markets
With the UK smoking ban now in effect, GPs are likely to see a spike in demand for smoking cessation products. The survey measures four such drugs. Three of these ñ Nicorette, Nicotinell and Niquitin CQ ñ have similarly high proportions of GPs saying they would consider using them (60 per cent, 58 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively).

A high percentage of GPs rate all three drugs as effective treatments, with Nicorette taking the lead at 65 per cent. Similar proportions rate them as patient friendly or trusted and proven. Again Nicorette leads the way with 38 per cent and 50 per cent, respectively.

Results for the fourth smoking cessation treatment Champix are interesting. The fieldwork for the study was conducted in January, February and March, prior to the issue of favourable National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) draft guidelines for the treatment, and so the fact that only seven per cent of GPs consider it an effective treatment and three per cent see it as trusted and proven, is not surprising. Despite this, 19 per cent of GPs say they would consider using Champix, a result which bucks the general pattern.

Normally the proportion of GPs saying they would consider using a treatment is lower than the proportion saying it is effective. It may be that some GPs have an innate sense of the likely effectiveness of a product, or they may have been persuaded by receiving the right information in advance of the NICE guidelines (22 per cent of GPs had seen advertising for Champix in the last six months, while 12 per cent had seen a pharma rep or attended a meeting).

Unlike Champix that is entering a market already served by a number of well regarded treatments, other brands shareing this results profile tend to be in areas where GPs have less choice. Xenical, Mucodyne and Aricept all have a greater proportion of GPs saying they would consider using them than claiming that they are effective treatments.

No other treatment faces the same degree of competition as Champix and it will be interesting to see how the NICE guidelines and the smoking ban will affect the position of the smoking cessation products,
particularly Champix which is an entrant into a fairly well-served treatment category.

Strong brands
Alongside smoking cessation, COPD is one of several treatment categories that is well served by three strong brands. Seventy-five per cent of GPs rate Seretide COPD and Symbicort as trusted and proven, just ahead of Spiriva (73 per cent). Over 60 per cent say they would consider using all three drugs.

While such categories present GPs with a choice of effective treatments, which may vary in suitability for different types of patients, the high rating of the individual brands could provide a significant barrier to entry for new brands.

On a positive note, a wider choice will mean that GPs are able to have a second line of treatment if their first prescription is not effective.

Table 1 shows the categories where GPs have three or more treatments they would consider using. In each of the five therapy areas, at least 50 per cent of GPs say they would consider all three brands.

Acne treatments
In the area of acne treatment, the most recent entrant Duac, has established a good position in relation to the older brands, with 38 per cent of GPs rating Duac as an effective treatment. This makes it even with the more established brand Tetralysal (37 per cent), but still behind market leader Zineryt (53 per cent).

Duac scores well in relation to Tetrasyl which is regarded as an effective treatment by a higher proportion of GPs (50 per cent compared with 38 per cent for Duac). There is a smaller gap in terms of being trusted and proven (28 per cent Tetrasyl, 23 per cent Duac). Fourth placed Differin was beaten by Duac on all counts, with 30 per cent saying they would consider using it.

For details of the research methodology see June issue of Pharmaceutical Marketing (page 59) or apply online for your copy. 

Table 1: Best Known Brands in Selected Categories


Brand and score


Seretide (59 per cent), Singulair (56 per cent), Qvar (52 per cent)


Seretide COPD (65 per cent), Spiriva (63 per cent), Symbicort (62 per cent)

Eczema/Pruritis/Dry Skin Conditions

Diprobath/Diprobase (61 per cent), Oilatum (59 per cent), E45 (55 per cent)


Calcichew D3 Forte (57 per cent), Actonel Once A Week (54 per cent), Adcal-D3 (53 per cent)

Smoking Cessation

Nicorette (60 per cent), Nicotinell (58 per cent), Niquitin CQ (55 per cent)

BrandWatch is written by Nigel Jacklin, managing director of Objective Research. The data is sourced from Pharmaceutical Brand Monitor, a survey developed by GP and MIMS. For further information on the survey contact David Saunders, Haymarket Medical Media on 0208 267 4869 or at

16th July 2007


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