Hot summer ad wars: Celgene launches Otezla DTC into crowded psoriasis drug market

Celgene's ($CELG) Otezla is the newest entrant in what is shaping up to be a summer throwdown among psoriasis drugmakers. Not surprisingly, every company's got its own strategy.

Otezla "Show More of You" TV Spot

The psoriasis-fighting TV spot for Otezla, which was approved for plaque psoriasis in September, began June 14 with spending topping $5.6 million through the first two weeks ending July 1, according to, which tracks TV ad metrics in real time. The "Show More of You" TV spot aired more than 1,600 times, ranging from 70-100 placements per day, on both cable and broadcast.

Otezla joined Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Stelara, whose TV campaign featuring model CariDee English had been running since June 1. J&J spent $2.1 million for the month on 724 national airings for its ad, according to iSpot. Not to be left out, AbbVie's ($ABBV) blockbuster Humira launched its own psoriasis TV onslaught, spending $1 million in just one week on 988 airings--a whopping 130-150 placements per day, on average.

Strategic blitz or coincidence? You decide. But, ahem, the Humira campaign using already-existing creative launched on the exact same day as Otezla's DTC, according to iSpot data.

Taking a different tack, Amgen ($AMGN) and Pfizer's ($PFE) Enbrel halted its psoriasis TV spot in mid-May, and used June to highlight the drug for psoriatic arthritis, the other common indication for these drugs. Golfer Phil Mickelson starred in two different spots still hawking for Enbrel.

Head spinning yet? Imagine what it's like to be a treating physician or potential patient. And they're not likely to get a marketing break anytime soon with the next generation of drugs already out of the gate.

Novartis ($NVS), whose Cosentyx won psoriasis approval in January, has yet to fire an aggressive pitch, although the drugmaker has said it expects the drug to top out at sales of $4 billion to $5 billion. Think it will get there without aggressive marketing? Not likely.

Meanwhile, Boehringer Ingelheim recently entered Phase III trials with its IL-23, meeting Amgen and AstraZeneca's ($AZN) brodalumab and Eli Lilly's ($LLY) ixekizumab already in that final phase--and looking to finish next behind Cosentyx in the new IL-17 inhibitor category.

Oh, but wait--there's more. Johnson & Johnson's guselkumab is further behind, but also making its way along the approval chain.

Celgene, which declined comment for this story, had projected Otezla sales at $1.5 billion to $2 billion in 2017, but it's faced a series of setbacks lately. The drug was turned down for recommendation by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in England, following the news that Germany's cost gatekeeper IQWiG didn't see added benefits for Otezla compared with treatments already on the market.

- see the Otezla ad on

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