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Marketing Antidepressants Prozac and Paxil Case Solution

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
831 991 Words (4 Pages) Youngme Moon, Kerry Herman Harvard Business School : 502055
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Prozac and Paxil are anti depressant drugs that were developed as a result of tireless efforts. Prozac was developed by Eli Lilly scientists and secured that through patent while Praxil by GSK. However, with the passage of time, Prozac faced many concerns and backlashes. Now it’s almost end of that patent for Prozac, while, GSK and other players are well aware of this situation. Eli lilly has anticipated and came across different options of either to develop new delivery method, as they got approval of 90mg SKU. Secondly, they have an option of repositioning Prozac for new indications or they can come up with a market breaking new antidepressant. GSK being well aware of this situation is expecting new generic for Prozac and so; they came also came up with almost same options as that of Lilly. 

Following questions are answered in this case study solution:

  1. Introduction

  2. Background

  3. Recommendations

  4. Justification

  5. Alternatives

  6. Uncertainties Associated with Recommendations

  7. Action Plan

Marketing Antidepressants Prozac and Paxil Case Analysis


This case revolves around the antidepressant drugs, Prozac and Paxil.  Prozac being Lilly’s signature offering and Paxil being GSK’s signature offering. These two drugs were considered to be legendary curing medicines of their categories. Addition to being in SSRIs and FDA approved, they inculcated many more benefits. However, with the passage of time, the market started to backlash with arousal of many concerns. Because of overwhelmed marketing and overpromises, these drugs were started to be over used. Only 10 million needed anti depressants while 28million actually used it. Even the usage pattern was not proper. These drugs were prescribed for children, some severely raised concerns since these drugs were not tested for children. Addition to that, these drugs had some severe side effects including, making people addicted to them. Now, the patent for Prozac is about to expire, with competitors keeping a hawk eye. Market is expecting generics of Prozac while GSK also positioning itself to face the threats. Prozac and Paxil identified three different options as part of future forecast and anticipation. Exhibit 3 represents the growth of these anti depressants with Prozac claiming more of marketing share while, Paxil and Zoloft are with almost same share.


Lilly came across the problem of facing its competitors, since, on expiration of patent they would be coming up with low priced generic. There are two scenarios on that; Prozac are a well established brand, repositioning it would require new marketing efforts and developing brand again. On the other side of it, PMDD combined with panic disorders and others is next big thing, and also it acquired patent for development of products for many other disorders. Exhibit 5 represents the total population with various disorders if various disorders are combined it’s a huge target market for Lilly. It would be better for them to pursue option one and option two. Third option is a long term with heavy investments.


As discussed before, Prozac is an established brand with ongoing marketing plan. Lilly recently acquired FDA approval to sell 90mg SKU. If Prozac is completely repositioning the brand, it might be losing loyal customers. Brand is a single idea, and it stands for single promise. Repositioning Prozac will cause deviation from promises, resulting in loss of customer and new marketing campaigns. It would be easy for Prozac to market new offerings to customers then building brand again. Prozac has a loyal customer data base to offering a small premium is not a big problem for Lilly.

The second option is worth perusing since PMDD, with other disorders, can create a new category, with additional offerings. It seems that there are two option of repositioning, either with a new brand name or under the banner of Prozac. It would better that they create a new category with a brand name under the banner of Prozac. This will provide the brand with a trust worthy start but will capture a different category. This will lower the marketing efforts, and first entrant has always an advantage of possibly being category itself.


One of other options for Lilly to pursue is to launch that brand with a new brand name creating a different category. This will require marketing and branding efforts right from the scratch. Other option is to develop a new antidepressant starting off from the new research. However, it will require loads of initial R&D more investment and investments filing for petitions. The risk associated with development of new anti depressant is the time it might take research to be successful, and the time it will take to get that patent filed.

Uncertainties Associated with Recommendations

There are few uncertainties associated with anticipated strategies. There is a possibility that one dosage per week might not be acceptable with the users. This strategy should be backed up with consumer educational program or it’s possible that one will misunderstand its offerings. Starting a brand under the umbrella of Prozac can actually cannibalize sales of Prozac. As, it has been mentioned in the case that only 10 million American needed medications while 28 million used it, so it’s possible that Prozac sales might get cannibalized. Addition to that, there can be a risk of brand backlash and bad impact on brand name Prozac if this new brand accounts for failure.

Action Plan:

As the patent is about to expire, it can apply for a patent extension. They should start marketing the 90mg product and start educating the consumers.  Moreover, brand building is a tiring and long term activity, so it needed to be started from now on. Firstly, Lilly should wait for patents they applied to be filed, then they can combines and present these offerings in one medicine, for example; PMDD and bulimia. Exhibit 13 represents that Panic disorders has been applied for approval and while; PTSD and paediatric depression are still be applied for approval. After acquiring patent, Lilly should start consumer educational programs, opinion leader’s endorsements and direct advertisements. 

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