Sr. VP, Account Director
Back in 2011, established industry giant Merck and newbie Vertex were racing to market with protease inhibitors (Victrelis and Incivek, respectively) that were poised to transform the way Hepatitis C was treated. This was basically akin to David vs. Goliath when you consider the companies’ respective resources and standings in the industry at the time. And Goliath (Merck) had the additional advantage of hitting the market first—a few weeks ahead of Incivek. But, nine months later Incivek set a commercial record by breaking $1 billion in sales—the fastest to hit that mark in the history of the industry. Much of that success can be attributed to the strategic mind of Eric Densmore.
“Nobody, including many of the KOLs, initially gave us much of a chance against Merck,” explains Dallan Murray, who was Sr. Director HCV Marketing at Vertex at the time and is now VP Commercial Strategy and Portfolio Management at Sarepta Therapeutics. “Luckily, we had Eric and AT on our side in this battle. Eric was our agency lead right from the beginning. On many occasions he flagged critical issues that made us re-think major decisions/initiatives. Sometimes that even happened on the eve of launching certain initiatives. Of all his traits, Eric’s courage stands out most to me. The courage to challenge things at any time, because he was truly accountable and fully committed to the best outcome possible.”
One example: Eric’s work on the pre-launch campaign, which set the stage for the rapid launch uptake. The campaign used the data from the existing therapies to establish that driving down the virus fast led to the best outcomes. This helped to shape the decisions that HCPs faced as they had to choose between two protease inhibitors.
According to Murray, even the few “doubting” KOLs eventually became believers. And the brand went on to peak around a patient share of greater than 80%. Most importantly, many patients were able to be cured of their HCV because of Incivek.