Race-Specific Drug ‘BiDil’: Nitromed’s Marketing Challenge

Race-Specific Drug ‘BiDil’: Nitromed’s Marketing Challenge

Understand the issues and challenges faced by a US-based pharmaceutical company in marketing

This case is about BiDil, the first race-specific drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of heart failure in self-identified African Americans in the US. BiDil was marketed by NitroMed Inc., a small pharmaceutical company in the US. The decision to approve BiDil as a race-specific drug was a controversial one. While some experts hailed this as the first step toward personalized medicines, critics felt that marketing a race-specific drug could promote racial stereotyping and create a misconception that people of different races differed on a biological level. There were also many others who felt that marketing BiDil as a race-specific drug was motivated by commercial interests alone as NitroMed could extend the patent for BiDil.  Marketing the drug posed a tougher challenge as despite a grassroots marketing effort, strategic partnership with African American organizations, and various rounds of sales force optimizations, the sales of BiDil were below expectations. Many experts felt that NitroMed did not have the desired marketing and financial strength to sustain a highly targeted marketing effort in a multicultural setting. Others felt that NitroMed was on the learning curve and that its new direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising effort could help change things for the better.


1.Understand the issues and challenges faced by a US-based pharmaceutical company in marketing a race-specific drug in a multicultural environment

2. Understand the scientific, commercial, and ethical issues with regard to personalized medicine and race-specific drugs in particular

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