Riding High: Novartis And The Tekturna Chopper

Riding High: Novartis And The Tekturna Chopper

December 22nd, 2011 // 1:58 pm @

By now, you may have heard that the Tekturna blood pressure pill that Novartis was hoping to transform into a blockbuster has a bleak future. Launched four years ago and facing stiff competition from older meds, including generics, the pill was being tested in high-risk patients in hopes of greatly expanding its market and ringing up hundreds of millions of dollars in sales.

Instead, a late-stage trial of more than 8,600 patients showed evidence of an increased incidence of non-fatal stroke, renal complications, hyperkalemia and hypotension. Now, Novartis is ending promotion and may look to sell the drug, which generated just $449 million in sales through the first nine months of the year and was unprofitable (back story).

How times change. To illustrate just how much optimism Novartis had when the Tekturna blood pressure drug was launched four years ago, the drugmaker held a big sales meeting for its reps in Las Vegas. And on display was a custom motorcycle featuring the Tekturna colors and logo built by Orange County Chopper and these were touring around the country.

By 2007, such extravagant outlays for a launch party were not quite as typical and the expense upset many sales reps at the time, who carped that spending money on custom motorcycles was wasteful and an unfocused attempt at reaching the target audience . In any event, the bikes may now be collector’s items and are worth more than the drug.

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