gazyvax600In the pharma brands sector, Roche (+3 pts. to 72 media rating / #8 peer rank) and Genentech (+3 pts. to 54 / #32) got a nice boost in both the financial and media markets when a clinical trial testing its new blood cancer drug Gazyva proved successful, lifting prospects for a medicine that will be pivotal as the Swiss company fends off competitive threats from biosimilars.

How important is earned media coverage for a new drug? Very. In addition to clinical and FDA validation, the media plays a critical role in seeding and building market presence beyond pharma insiders and industry sources. Story lines about Gazyva increase awareness of the underlying condition (leukemia/blood cancer) and the efforts being made to address it.

Gazyva’s media rating rating advanced +11 points or +27 percent to close the May news cycle at 41, a new high for Roche’s latest cancer drug. A majority of the May media attention was tied to a series of clinical trials which are critical in determining how well the Swiss drug maker is positioned to fend off cheaper competition from so-called biosimilar copies of Rituxan (up +1 point primarily on comparisons to Gazyva), which are likely to hit the market in the next couple of years. Roche and Genentech increasingly find themselves researching improvements for the firm’s existing treatment offering before generics or biosimilars erode their market position. Gazyva is a good example, and looks to be a successful media story for Roche.

Delving deeper into Gazyva’s media performance, the 14 media-segment ratings show a typical early drug introduction pattern, i.e., strong rating metrics in business and trade channels with trailing numbers in social and search media segments. Year-over-year and cumulative 4-year rating growth are strong at +37% and +43% respectively. Media momentum has been strong over the preceding 7-month period and appears to be increasing going into the June media cycle.

Gazyva (Roche/Genentech)

Rituxan (Genentech/Biogen)

Comparisons and context are everything in earned media analysis. Gazyva’s media rating performance is even more striking when compared to the 4-year rating profile for the drug Gazyva is replacing, Rituxan, jointly marketed by Genentech and Biogen (+2 to 63 / #16). The market is reacting strong to possible encroachment into Rituxan sales of knockoff biosimilars. Regulators are approving an increasing number of biologics that deliver similar treatment effects.  Gazyva is Roche/Genentech’s answer to the inevitable competition coming from biosimilars.

Rituxan is up +1 point at a media rating of 38, well off the drug brand’s 4-year high of 53.  From a media perspective, Gazyva is clearly earning the leukemia treatment spotlight for Roche and Genentech. For drug marketers and their agency partners there’s clear insight from a broad media measurement approach. Roche and its Genentech subsidiary can directly monitor and manage the ongoing media visibility of both Gazyva and Rituxan, determining where and when both are gaining or losing media traction.