BMS revives Orencia DTC advertising after two-year absence

An old drug with a new trick? We'll see. After a long DTC hiatus, Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) is taking a new tack with advertising its rheumatoid arthritis drug Orencia. The campaign for the decade-old drug emphasizes long-term relief and uses the new tagline, "See your RA in a different way."

The new DTC campaign could be a way to goose slightly slowed Orencia sales by reminding patient that it's an option.  The effort also comes as biosimilar RA drugs move closer to market. BMS said the campaign began July 27 as a multi-channel effort, including print, and specifically targets patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.

"For the nearly 10 years Orencia has been on the market, Bristol-Myers Squibb has been committed to helping the millions of patients living and working with rheumatoid arthritis every day," said Jennifer Herron, VP, U.S. Immunology, in an email interview. "With this campaign, we want to accurately reflect the impact that rheumatoid arthritis has on patients' lives."

The previous Orencia DTC campaign ended in May 2013 and carried the tagline "Oh Yes I Can."

While the RA drug category is a crowded one, the most intense--and high-profile--battle is among TNF inhibitors such as AbbVie's ($ABBV) Humira, Amgen's ($AMGN) Enbrel, Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Simponi, and Pfizer ($PFE) and Johnson & Johnson's Remicade. Orencia is a non-TNF-inhibitor biologic, drugs often used when TNF inhibitors don't work, although Orencia is indicated for first-line treatment as well. That category also includes Roche ($RHHBY) and Biogen's ($BIIB) Rituxan and Roche's Actemra.

Orencia was approved by the FDA in 2005 and has been approved for a patent extension which is currently set to expire in the U.S. in 2019. The drug has been a steadily building blockbuster for BMS. Worldwide revenues for 2014 were $1.65 billion, up 15% from $1.44 billion in 2013. However, before that the drug notched annual sales gains of 20% or more every year since the launch in 2006. Total lifetime sales now top $7.2 billion. For 2015, BMS reported that Orencia revenue grew 10% in the first quarter and 15% in the second quarter.

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