Xpectives News

Multiple Sclerosis – A Competitive DTC Category

August 26, 2020 by Bob Ehrlich0
The multiple sclerosis (MS) category is increasing its DTC use. Historically, low incidence diseases have used print and digital targeted efforts rather than mass. That has changed over the last few years as drugs for Hep C, HIV, lung cancer, and other lower incidence categories have gone mass media including television.

Approximately 1 million Americans have MS with 12,000 newly diagnosed cases each year. This is more prevalent in women. New treatments have been making this a more competitive marketplace. Novartis’ Mayzent and EMD Serono’s Mavenclad joined the mix in 2019. Genentech’s Ocrevus was approved in 2017. Genzyme’s Aubagio has been around since 2012.

The big spender is Ocrevus at about $100 million over the past 12 months. While MS has been advertised using limited print historically, Ocrevus has gone full multimedia, including a huge television investment. Ocrevus started its campaign in late 2019. They use print, TV, and display ads along the theme “Dear MS.” This is an MS patient telling the MS disease they found a new treatment to help them take back control.

Using a vignette approach, each patient profiled tells MS that they used to be controlled and defined by the disease. Now, they found Ocrevus and have more space to live their lives. The ad is impactful, using real sufferers and an arresting first visual. The 60-second ad is nicely balanced with 25 seconds of benefits, 25 seconds of fair balance, and 10 second wrap up stating MS does not get to control the sufferer, with the end line “MS can’t own us.” The print ad is themed the same as television with the “Dear MS” headline. It states Ocrevus is a 2x a year treatment in the headline.

Aubagio has done a good job with their print based campaign. With a lower budget than Ocrevus of about $18 million, they used a headline in a two-page spread that reads, “To Find A Way to Keep Moving Forward.” Above the headline is an explanatory smaller type saying “With Relapsing MS Your Goal Is.” I am a big fan of eye catching headlines in an easy to read font, on a background that makes the headline stand out. Using white lettering on blue background accomplishes that. Aubagio, also in a sub headline, states it is a once a day pill.That is important since some MS drugs require infusion.

What I also like about the Aubagio campaign is its consistency. They have used the same headline for the past two years. The only change has been the color of the background which seems to be rotating with the blue version. Both versions show a 30-something female jogging along which goes with the moving forward headline.

Mayzent has just started its consumer print campaign with a two-page spread. They are going for an emotional approach of a woman with a cane, pictured with her child. Their indication is for secondary progressive MS where there is a worsening condition.

Zeposia, an oral pill from Bristol Myers Squibb, was approved March 2020 so we can expect that to be added to the DTC mix likely in 2021. Numerous drugs in oral and infusion doses are in phase 3 trials so this category will remain active for DTC. What is increasingly clear is that most new brands believe DTC is an important part of their marketing strategy.
Bob Ehrlich, Chairman
DTC Perspectives, Inc.

Bob Ehrlich

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