Indian pharmaceutical company Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories is attempting to resurrect over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever Doan’s, through a new marketing campaign. Doan’s is part of a multi-product portfolio developed by Novartis, sold to Ducere Pharma in 2013 and finally, acquired by Dr. Reddy’s last year.
In addition to Doan’s, Dr. Reddy’s acquired the rights to another pain reliever, Myoflex, as well as other OTC drugs with indications ranging from heartburn to hemorrhoids. Dr. Reddy’s will start their marketing push with a focus on three brands – Doan’s, Bufferin and Nupercainal – eventually working their way towards promoting Cruex Nail Gel, Comtrex, and Myoflex.
Doan’s was once a popular pain reliever for back pain, but the product has been off the market for over five years. In 1999, Novartis was charged by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for including unsubstantiated claims of superiority over other back pain treatments in their advertisements for Doan’s.
Dr. Reddy’s new national TV ad campaign for Doan’s – which was launched two weeks ago – steers clear of making any controversial claims. Instead, the 15-second spot aims to remind older viewers of the heritage brand, and introduce younger viewers to both the oral and topical forms of the pain reliever drug.
“The brands have had high brand awareness in the past, so the challenge was, ‘how do we bring it back to the current market, but also bring it to a new generation of potential sufferers?’” Lauren Schulz, director of OTC brand marketing at Dr. Reddy’s, told FiercePharma.
Along with the TV ad campaign, the marketing push will include digital ads and a redesigned website. According to Schulz, awareness of the Doan’s brand has already increased from 35 percent to 43 percent in eight test markets since the ad campaign began.
These are promising results for a notoriously competitive product category. Since its exit from the market around seven years ago, big-name brands such as Advil, Tylenol and Aleve have maintained their share of the lucrative OTC pain reliever market.
In 2016, the US market for topical pain relievers was $734 million, with sales of oral analgesics reaching $4.12 billion, according to the Consumer Healthcare Product Association. Dr. Reddy’s will need to make a major investment in promoting Doan’s to have a shot at capturing some of this market share.
“Dr. Reddy’s invested in these assets to grow them,” said Shultz. “They went after this portfolio specifically because it was brand names that people knew with room to grow, but had just been ignored.”
You can watch the advertisement here.