Have you seen the TV ad for Tecfidera? The one that shows a woman being able to do all sorts of active things because she’s on the drug, which has reduced the frequency of her Multiple Sclerosis exacerbations?
I was surprised when I saw it on my screen one day. Frankly, I didn’t think there was enough of an audience of potential Tecfidera users to justify the cost of this kind of an ad campaign. I guess I was right.
According to the web site www.mmm-online.com, that ad campaign failed to boost Tecfidera’s sales. The ad has been pulled and Biogen has said it probably won’t be getting back into TV advertising anytime soon.
Lousy sales might not have been the only reason for dropping that ad. There was also a strong push-back from some MS patients. One, in particular, was once a “patient consultant” for Biogen, the manufacturer of Tecifidera. She wrote a blog post slamming the ad. It began: “What on earth are you thinking with your recent drug campaign?” The blog continues: “You show everyone that if we take this blue pill once a day we can do anything. I am the first one to be encouraging, but your ad takes it beyond that. Even people with ‘normal’ health will not hike, swim and go to the fair in one day and still look so good; someone with MS would be out of the day before they hit noon.”
A quick search of YouTube turned up an even more personal comment, in a video posted by a young woman named Heather. “Tecfidera,” she tells the camera, “is not going to make anyone jump out of their MS suit and become Michael Phelps.”
By the way, about a week ago Biogen CEO George Scangos, who shepherded the launch of Tecfidera, announced that he’s leaving the company.
What do you think? Is it a good idea to use TV to advertise MS drugs?
(BTW, I’m really excited about a weekly MS column that I’m now writing for www.multiplesclerosisnews.com. Some of those columns will be repeated here, some won’t. Please check it out).