The television campaign for plaque psoriasis fighter Consentyx started in January. The new drug from Novartis is joining Humira, Otezla, Stelara, Remicade and Enbrel. All have been DTC advertisers in a market affecting about 7.5 million Americans.
Cosentyx is taking an interesting DTC creative approach. It is using testimonials from real patients who ask others to see them, not just their psoriasis. The “See Me” campaign asks people to recognize that people suffering from psoriasis do not want to be stared at, or avoided out of fears psoriasis is contagious. The patients want others to see them as fighters searching for something to clear their skin.
The opening 20 seconds sets up nicely the sell copy on the drug itself. It says Consentyx is a different kind of treatment that results in 80% of people seeing 75-90% skin clearance after three months. In a very crowded DTC market, I think the new Cosentyx spot breaks through nicely. The “See Me” headline superimposed over the patient faces on screen is a nice way to carry the approach through print and Internet ads.
The ending, after the usual warnings, ends with a nice tag line, “Find a clearer path forward.” It is also interesting that instead of ask your doctor, they say ask your dermatologist. It seems they want to get specialists on board before getting generalists to prescribe it. Cosentyx, as with most of these new drugs is expensive, costing thousands to treat. The higher prices are what is the incentive to do heavy DTC spending in a relatively small patient population.
Like all these newer premium priced drugs, the advertisers will face sticker shock from those patients who have problems getting reimbursement or have high co-pays. The recent trend for drug makers has been to advertise drugs regardless of price. They want to create demand as this helps push reluctant payers to cover the drug. Most insurance companies would prefer patients use much cheaper, albeit, less effective old line treatments. DTC for newer drugs is trying to create patient awareness that there are very effective treatments now available. Cost/benefit will be debated by the payers and patient demand has been an important dynamic in pushing payers to cover the newer treatments.
Would payers cover these new premium priced drugs if DTC did not exist? My guess is it would take much longer for coverage and be available to many fewer patients without patient awareness and requests.