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.

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Comments
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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