With a new IPF drug on its way, Boehringer backs a Discovery documentary on the lung disease

To raise awareness about diseases their products treat, some pharma companies launch online marketing campaigns. Others team up with celebrity spokespeople. Boehringer Ingelheim backs Discovery Channel documentaries.

As part of its latest awareness endeavor, Boehringer funded "Every Breath Counts," a recently premiered film about the fatal lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The documentary features doctors, patients, family members and celebrities--including country music star Joe Nichols, who lost his father to the condition--who hope to get "people passionate about doing something," Nichols says in the movie's trailer.

"BI is committed to supporting people living with IPF and calling the public's attention to this rare, serious and progressive disease," Boehringer Ingelheim Public Relations Director Jennifer Forsyth told FiercePharmaMarketing in an email. "The Discovery Channel provides us with a unique opportunity to reach a large number of people to increase awareness and understanding about IPF."

Boehringer has good reason to spread the word. Its prospective treatment for the disease, nintedanib, is in Phase III trials, and the EMA accepted its approval app just last month. In the U.S., Boehringer started an expanded access program on nintedanib, to allow IPF patients who can't participate in a trial to start taking it.

"Every Breath Counts" isn't Boehringer's first foray into the world of disease-awareness documentaries. In March of last year, it backed "A Heartbeat Away From Stroke," another Discovery Channel documentary that explored the connection between atrial fibrillation and stroke. Boehringer has a drug for that condition, too: its new-age anticoagulant, Pradaxa, whose continued growth has bolstered the company's top line.

But unlike nintedanib--which could launch in a wide-open U.S. market if it's able to beat a once-FDA-rejected drug from InterMune ($ITMN)--Pradaxa now has a pair of serious next-gen rivals in Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Bayer's Xarelto and Pfizer ($PFE) and Bristol Myers-Squibb's ($BMY) Eliquis. While Eliquis hasn't yet lived up to analysts' expectations, Xarelto has breezed past them, taking the lead in the market-share battle despite Pradaxa's first-to-market advantage.

- read the release
- watch the documentary

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