Aventis Uses Vouchers to Build Rapport

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Aventis Oncology introduces new elements next month to two programs designed to increase awareness of its Taxotere prescription drug among oncologists and cancer patients.


The Bridgewater, NJ, pharmaceutical company will add taxi vouchers to its "Connection Cards" resource docket and medical wig vouchers in its "Living With It" information kit, both in the same box.


The materials, to be distributed to oncologists by 300 Aventis sales reps nationwide in late September, will coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.


"Their overall goal here is that they want their sales reps to have a real genuine relationship with their oncologists," said Lori Amirshahi, director of account services at PowerPact LLC, the Richmond, VA, agency that has handled these Aventis relationship-marketing programs for three years.


The taxi voucher program is a trial limited to Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. Aventis partnered with local metered taxi companies to use their vouchers. Each voucher has a $15 value and is valid Oct. 1 through March 31, 2003.


Sales reps will distribute 1,000 vouchers in each city to oncologists who then will give them to patients to ease their transportation problems to and from chemotherapy treatments.


"They're trying to think from a patient's perspective of what they can do to make their lives easier," Amirshahi said.


The Living With It program will include medical wig vouchers for patients who lose their hair from chemotherapy. The voucher offers women a 15 percent discount on medical wigs bought on online retailer wigs.net. Like the taxi voucher, the wig voucher is good October through March 2003.


Living With It offers information on diet, exercise, insurance, clinical trials and medical options to women who have breast cancer.


Introduced in 2000, the Connection Cards program was developed by PowerPact as a resource for oncologists to offer patients. It aims to help breast cancer patients develop a support network of professional experts, personal contacts and institutions.


The packet this year contains 10 blank notecards and envelopes, a 30-minute prepaid phone card, a wallet-sized reference card with contact details on 12 leading cancer resources and a Taxotere information sheet.


Medical wig vouchers will be inside all 60,000 packages distributed nationwide. Aventis sales reps will distribute another 60,000 wig vouchers at expositions.


Last year, 796,000 cases of breast cancer were detected. Aventis' Taxotere is a treatment designed to help destroy cancer cells in the body when the cancer is discovered or recurs after prior chemotherapy. This anti-cancer chemotherapy drug is given intravenously every three weeks. Each treatment lasts about an hour.


Programs like Connection Cards and Living With It aim to position Taxotere as a requested treatment for the disease. The company faces competition from Bristol-Myers Squibb Oncology's Taxol and AstraZeneca's Tamoxifin. Hence the importance of retaining physician loyalty and interest by adding features like the vouchers in their relationship marketing programs.


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