Being first to market with a new drug has a number of advantages, not least of which is a much lower spend on marketing and branding, according to a new report.

In fact, marketing teams for ‘me-too’ drugs spend almost 400% more than their first-in-class compatriots to bring their brands to market, according to a study compiled by Cutting Edge Information.

“In a highly competitive blockbuster market, it is easier to be a leader than a follower,” according to Cutting Edge’s Eric Bolesh. "Me-too brand teams must make a name for their drug in a market with better-known, already- existing drugs."

The report, entitled US Pharmaceutical Launches: Marketing Spend and Structure, investigates financial and human resources dedicated to 18 brands between Phase III clinical development and the 12 months to 18 months immediately following launch.

First-in-class brand teams are more likely to let their drugs promote themselves via the drug's science. This technique attracts physicians and patients and allows for lower overall expenditures, it suggests.

On the other hand, me-too brand teams have a difficult time attracting the attention of physicians and patients already comfortable with existing products.

"People are not going to switch from their trusted brand to a new and similar brand without good reason. This is why follow-on products constantly face an uphill battle when coming to market," Bolesh said.

The sharp investment divide between first-in-class and follow-on is evident at all brand levels. Me-too niche-level brands, for example, spend almost twice as much as niche-level first-in-class brands.