Thursday, April 13, 2006—After services at a predominantly black church in Atlanta, parishioners in their Sunday best roll up their sleeves to get their blood pressure checked at a health screening where they learn about symptoms of heart failure and a new drug approved only for use in blacks.
At another black church in Detroit and a black health fair in Chicago, participants pick up pamphlets about the drug BiDil that are filled with patients’ smiling black faces - not the usual sea of white faces with just a smattering of minorities.
In the nine months since BiDil became the first drug approved for a specific racial group, NitroMed Inc. has been sticking with narrowly targeted, homespun-style pitches as it tries to turn around disappointing initial sales that led two top executives to resign last month.
There’s no plan to abandon NitroMed’s grassroots-style marketing in favor of mass-media ad campaigns that accompany many drug launches. Meanwhile, NitroMed’s sales force is focusing only on 144 U.S. metropolitan areas that have large black populations.
Such targeted marketing approaches are expected to become more common as technology continues to advance so treatments are more frequently tailored to individuals’ genetic make-ups.