J&J looks for the inside story with new online psoriasis campaign

Psoriasis: The Inside Story, a new Janssen-sponsored website, uses three well-known spokespeople to help talk about living life with the disease.

Psoriasis is a visible skin condition, but to Janssen that's only half the story. The Johnson & Johnson pharma arm wants to tell the story of how psoriasis impacts the lives and thinking of people who have it.

"Psoriasis: The Inside Story" is an online initiative featuring actress Katie Lowes, who currently stars on TV show Scandal, and two psoriasis advocates, Todd Bello and Sabrina Skiles. All three have psoriasis and will write blog posts and lead video discussions at psoriasisinsidestory.com about living life with psoriasis.

For Lowes, it's the first time she's speaking out about her struggles with psoriasis and doing media interviews with mainstream channels, including ABC and Self, to promote the Inside Story effort.

The campaign comes through a Janssen partnership with the National Psoriasis Foundation as well as lifestyle brands Fodor's Travel, ClassPass and Burlington, celebrity psychologist Michelle Callahan, and hair stylist Scott Cunha to tackle topics from fitness and travel to love and relationships.

Megan Farina, director of product communications at Janssen, said in an email interview that through shared stories, the group hopes to "raise awareness of the challenges of living with this chronic autoimmune disease and offer advice that can help remove barriers that may be holding people back."

J&J is marketing psoriasis fighter Stelara and has submitted an application to the FDA for experimental med guselkumab for moderate to severe psoriasis. In phase 3 testing, the candidate has performed well against AbbVie's Humira and placebos.

J&J isn't the only pharma with a new psoriasis med on its hands, though, and it's not the only one with a new psoriasis marketing initiative, either. Novartis and Eli Lilly have each recently launched efforts in conjunction with their own next-gen meds: Last year, Novartis, which markets Cosentyx, enlisted body painters to showcase patient stories, while Lilly, maker of Taltz, spent more than $21 million on TV advertising between late September and early December.