Irritable bowel syndrome is tricky. Symptoms come and go, they vary from person to person, and they're not dinner-table conversation. But Forest Laboratories ($FRX) and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals ($IRWD) need to get patients talking about their IBS with constipation--because they have a drug for that.
So, Forest and Ironwood are launching a direct-to-consumer campaign for Linzess (linaclotide), approved in December 2012 for IBS with constipation and for chronic idiopathic constipation. Get ready to stumble on the ads in popular consumer mags--People and Better Homes & Gardens among them. And the TV commercials will pop up during prime-time network programming such as "Modern Family," "The Voice" and "NCIS."
The campaign has a disease-awareness spin, thanks to some revealing market research. Forest and Ironwood found that many people a., don't realize that long-lasting or recurrent constipation is worth telling their doctors about, and b., don't know how to describe their symptoms if they do. And c., fewer than 10% of diagnosed patients know Linzess exists.
"We felt we had a unique opportunity to reach patients who were having a difficult time identifying and conveying the symptoms they were experiencing," Forest EVP Bill Meury said in a statement. "This campaign is intended to facilitate a more comprehensive conversation between adult patients and physicians, and to raise consumer awareness about these diseases and Linzess as a treatment option."
Besides the TV and print ads, the Linzess campaign includes educational materials to be distributed at medical offices and pharmacies, a brushed-up brand website, and online promos. The ads and fact sheets enumerate symptoms of IBS-C and CIC, even defining the terms "chronic" and "idiopathic."
The TV commercial focuses in on one human midriff after another. An animated blue ribbon illustrates the symptoms: A tied-up-in-knots ribbon for one, a stack of bricks for another. Of course, Linzess is touted as a tool for untangling that ribbon--and moving those bricks out of a pile and, well, in line.
- see the release from Forest and Ironwood