Why is the decision to switch from Rx to OTC usually considered a challenge? Is it because Rx and OTC marketing are seen as two separate sectors of a drug's product life cycle, with OTC always serving as the final stage? Or is it the stigma of lower profitability, deserved or not, that OTC-only marketing carries? These perceptions - or misconceptions - may sometimes cause a company's general management to be reluctant to concede to switching until the optimal timing for maximizing the contribution of a brand has passed.
In fact, OTC is a strategic option for extending a product's revenue stream and is not automatically the death knell to the prescription business. If Rx and OTC marketers construct a master life cycle strategy together, they can turn the paradigm of switching from a risk to an opportunity.
That was the message delivered by Bruce Lifka, Senior Director, Hair Growth and Rx/OTC Switches for Pfizer, at The Institute for International Research's RX to OTC Switch Marketers Forum held in Philadelphia in November, 2003.
- discusses switching in context of targeting different patient types in which a category expansion strategy would not erode patient office visits,
- provides several real-life cases where switching was an effective brand-building strategy, and
- suggests a strategy for aligning corporate goals and incentives to facilitate the change from product management to molecule management.