Pain lozenges and off-label marketing

So, what do pain lozenges and off-label marketing have in common?

The answer is Cephalon’s Fentora — which “is used to treat breakthrough pain in adult patients with cancer (18 years of age and older) who are regularly using other opioid pain medicines around-the-clock for their constant cancer pain”.

The problem, according to the US Postal Service, is that Fentora is being marketed off-label (i.e. for a use other than for cancer) and USPS is paying for this off-label usage through its workers’ compensation program.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with off-label usage per se (if a doctor prescribes it), but there is a problem when the pharmaceutical promotes it.  Off-label marketing seems to be going on a lot or at least getting attention (see Novartis settles off-label marketing case and Abbott’s lawsuit, as just two recent cases that have hit the news).

Off-label marketing is yet another example of where paid KOLs and sales representatives are the wrong people at the front line. Doctors, who prescribe off-label, can do so if they wish — just don’t pay, remunerate, or script them.

But, if doctors who prescribe Fentora off-label just so happen to tell their physician colleagues how well it works and their patients tell other patients, who can stop them including the FDA — after all, that’s just word of mouth. Sounds like an “issue” that better strategic thinking (e.g. how do you “get” unpaid advocates) and social media was built for.

One Response to “Pain lozenges and off-label marketing”
  1. Michael Wong says:

    For further thoughts on off-label marketing, please click here.

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