Novartis bolsters its home-turf advantage in psoriasis with Cosentyx DTC push

Novartis knows that DTC advertising needs to be in the mix if it wants to "fully drive uptake" of the psoriasis-fighter in the U.S. And it's counting on its brand-new spot to get the ball rolling.

Novartis' Cosentyx "See Me" ad

The Swiss pharma giant's "See Me"--a commercial featuring real-life psoriasis patients--hit television screens a few weeks back, encouraging sufferers to "find a clearer path forward." The beginning of the ad shows patients covering up, feeling ashamed, hiding and encouraging others to "see me. Don't stare at me, see me. See me to know that psoriasis is just something that I have and not contagious. See me to know that I won't stop until I find what works."

Enter Cosentyx and Novartis' ($NVS) product info, overlaying shots of the patients happy, smiling and showing off their clear skin. One woman, avoided on the bus by her fellow passengers, has someone sit down next to her. Another goes from working in the secluded storeroom of a grocery store to a prominent, public-facing role at the checkout counter.

It's an ad Novartis is optimistic will "play well with this patient base and further grow the brand," company pharma chief David Epstein told analysts recently on the drugmaker's Q4 conference call. And with competitors coming up the pipelines of Big Pharma rivals like Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Merck ($MRK), growing the Cosentyx brand--and establishing a hefty first-to-market advantage--is something Novartis is keen to do.

While "See Me" may be the company's first branded DTC effort, it's not its first shot at promoting the future blockbuster. Last summer, the Basel-based drugmaker and the National Psoriasis Foundation signed '80s icon Cyndi Lauper for an awareness push dubbed "I'm PsO Ready." That campaign utilized Lauper, who has the disease, to highlight the "physical, emotional and social challenges" of psoriasis and celebrate "everyday successes" for patients, the foundation said in a statement at the time.

- watch the commercial

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