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Approved in 2006 as a treatment for Type II diabetes, Januvia is a first-in-class oral dipeptidyl peptidase-4 that was greeted enthusiastically at launch by prescribers, payers and patients. One of the most notable drug launches in recent years, Januvia's market entry was impressive for not only how quickly it got to the market but also how quickly it was embraced by the marketplace. The product exceeded $750 million in sales in its first full year on the market and hit blockbuster status in 2008, its second year on the market.
Januvia's rapid market acceptance was the result of years of pre-launch work to educate the key stakeholders in the diabetes therapeutic area: KOLs, physicians, payers and patients. Given Januvia's new method of action, Merck understood the need to educate - in a cascading manner - these critical groups with targeted messages that related Januvia to each stakeholder's needs. This case study reviews the strategies and tactics Merck used to educate key stakeholders and how those efforts paid off at launch. The study is the result of primary and secondary research that includes an extensive interview with a member of Januvia's launch team and a presentation that links Januvia's education tactics/strategies to Merck's move to a new commercialization model. Some of the topics addressed in the case study are Merck's focus on primary care physicians as a key launch tactic, the importance of a focused target patient population, and use of new technologies such as video detailing and tablet PCs to educate in an effective and less costly manner. By linking qualitative information from a Januvia leader with secondary research examples involving Merck/Januvia, this research project provides a unique perspective of how pre-launch education efforts across multiple stakeholder groups can have a powerful impact on a new product launch.