Thursday, September 6, 2007

Chantix/Champix - International Pricing & PR Scams

Pharmalyst had previously speculated on the pricing of Chantix/Champix overseas. My speculation was that Pfizer would perhaps target the upper income segment and therefore price it similar to US/Europe levels ($300 for 12 week course). Recently I checked with some fellow students (who were international and had the opportunity to visit their home country over the summer) whether Champix was being sold in their countries. Turns out that Pfizer (at least in some South American markets) is casting a wider net and targeting on both the upper and middle income segments. The price in a couple of markets appears to be around 60% of the US price according to my survey (n=2). That works out to $180 and correlates roughly with the cost of cigarettes in those countries. In the US this is priced roughly at 60 packs of cigarettes (pack a day for two months). Pricing in Latin America is using a similar approach it seems.

Meanwhile it looks like the Asian launch of this drug is under way and the PR arm of Pfizer is in full swing. Take a look at this puff piece in a UAE newspaper. According to this article:

"Dr Bassam Mahboub, incoming head of the national anti-tobacco committee, advised smokers against attempting to quit on their own."

Rather strange given that in most countries (US CDC Survey, UK NHS Surveys etc) cold turkey is the most effective method and with that method you don't deal with the side effects. Here is the head of the "national anti-tobacco committee" recommending that people don't try cold turkey and instead implying that they try stuff like Champix. And look at the Pfizer spokesman giving quotes that are not really backed up by the data. According to him/her:

Smoking is not only a habit like many people would think. It is a real addiction and the smokers need medical help to be able to successfully quit," he said, promising that varenicline tartrate would "multiply your willpower (to quit) by four."

Gee I wonder if the UAE package insert makes that claim.


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