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The launch story of Tarivid has important lessons about how to launch and build a big brand.
As mentioned earlier, high price came up as a strong objection to Tarivid. It was a fact and could not be made to disappear. There were however other facts which endorsed the superiority of the Tarivid over antibacterial drugs used at that time.
Tarivid had a broad spectrum covering Gram negative, Gram positive and some anaerobes. It had very low MICs (Minimum Inhibitory Concentration) against most microorganisms, which made them highly susceptible to ofloxacin. It had excellent tissue penetration which provided much higher than MIC concentration. And being a new drug, the possibility of bacterial resistance to it was minimal. All this made Tarivid highly effective, and it helped to reduce the price objection considerably.
The other action was to pitch Tarivid in chronic, complicated and difficult-to-treat conditions. In such conditions, one or more antibacterial drugs would have been used already without getting desired results, and the doctor would be more willing to try a new drug.
Tarivid was launched through a Task Force to selected customers, specialists, consultants and senior GPs. These customers usually got referred patients or those who have been treated by other doctors already. We recommended that Tarivid should be used in complicated, difficult-to-treat, and previous treatment-failure cases. The main focus was UTI and Gynecological conditions. It looked like we were setting the product for failure, but no, it was not so.
Tarivid was only used for very difficult cases in the beginning. And it passed, with distinction. Case after case was treated successfully, including some extremely tough, hopeless-kind cases. It almost always worked. In fact, Tarivid became known much more widely through word of mouth. Task force was small and could not cover bigger ground.
A large body of evidence built up for Tarivid efficacy in a rather short span of time. It was live, real-life usage without control parameters.
Tarivid did carry a rather long list of side effects, same as other quinolones. The risk-benefit ratio however, tilted in favor of Tarivid.
Quinolones also shared a common handicap. These drugs were not approved for use in population below twelve years of age.
At the backend, all communication about Tarivid launch was in real time. There was feedback every day, in person or on phone. Every bit of customer experience, comment, objection, was brought forth immediately. Do remember that there were no mobile phones. The task force members came to office every morning, and afternoon. They would share feedback for the morning work in the afternoon, and of the evening work in the morning. If they were traveling, they would use a public phone to communicate. Any information required by any customer was provided instantly.
Marketing and Sales teams were one. Asim Nadeem Saeed was Product Manager who prepared for and launched the product. ANS was ex-army; he had to get discharge on medical ground. He was hard working, disciplined, focused and very passionate about the product. He was in direct contact with med reps and AMs. All the good reports coming from the market infused the salespersons and marketing-persons with ever increasing confidence and passion.
The summary is that there was detailed homework before launch, strong strategy for launch and extreme focus and cohesion after launch. Tarivid became a trusted product soon and business grew rapidly.
Tarivid launch is a case study, and worthy of a business school writing a case study on it……