DTC in Perspective: HIV Drug Starts DTC Television
ViiV drug Triumeq for HIV just launched a television campaign. HIV drugs have not used television historically choosing instead targeted print as its main media. The number of people who have HIV is about 1.1 million in the United States. HIV can be successfully treated and newer drugs have turned what was once a deadly path to AIDS into a manageable chronic disease.
ViiV is a company formed as a joint venture between Glaxo and Pfizer to specialize in treating HIV. Glaxo owns the majority stake. What is very interesting is ViiV’s decision to use television for a relatively small category. The price of the drug is one reason ViiV can afford to go more broadly in media. The cost is about $2900 a month. Of course, insurance companies negotiate lower prices but assuming ViiV is getting over $20,000 a year per new patient, it makes sense to cast a wide net for new patients.
The Triumeq ad features real patients discussing their moving forward with their lives. They say they decided to use Triumeq to treat their HIV. The benefits cited by the real patients are once a day dosing taken any time of day and that it can be taken with or without food. The fair balance for Triumeq is lengthy starting after the first 25 seconds and lasting about 60 seconds. That makes these ads expensive to run requiring 90 second buys. Most DTC ads use 60 seconds.
The ad is upbeat and well executed. The use of real patients is a good technique. It will be interesting to see how much ViiV invests in television given the fairly limited target audience size. They have taken a category that has kept away from mass media and taken a shot at television. Other specialty category drugs have done this in recent years for cancer and hepatitis. ViiV would need about 50 new patients per million invested in television to break even. That number seems achievable and I am sure ViiV will know fairly quickly if the ROI is positive.
The HIV category is highly competitive with multiple drugs used and promoted. Triumeq has decided to up the media ante by choosing television. We will see if anyone else follows.