Sucampo's Amitiza targets 45-plus women with belly-as-balloon DTC ads

Sucampo ($SCMP) and Takeda may not be the first to launch a DTC campaign for a chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC) treatment. But the team, which markets Amitiza, is doing things a little differently.

Armed with a 60-second TV spot that rolled out earlier this week--and a related four-page print ad that's yet to be released--the pair will take a stab at reaching a specific market segment: CIC patients 45 years of age and older.

The ad features the stomach of a CIC patient--presumably a woman in that 45-and-over range--as a balloon, which is pulled, stressed and tied into knots. At the end of the commercial, after Amitiza enters the picture, the balloon shapes become more pleasant (think friendly dogs and butterflies).

It's not so far off from a DTC ad that Ironwood and Forest--now part of Actavis ($ACT)--unveiled back in April for their own constipation therapy, Linzess. That commercial focuses in on a series of human midriffs, with a blue ribbon--sometimes tied up in knots, other times represented as a stack of bricks--illustrating symptoms. Linzess, naturally, is portrayed as a tool for untangling that ribbon.

The difference, according to Sucampo CEO Peter Greenleaf, is that his company and Takeda have so far restricted their DTC efforts to CIC patients, rather than the wider group of constipation sufferers that includes, for example, those with IBS-induced constipation.

Sucampo CEO Peter Greenleaf

"What we're trying to do is approach a target segment of the marketplace," Sucampo CEO Peter Greenleaf told FiercePharmaMarketing. "We've not gone out to all sufferers of chronic constipation … We think we're going after the broadest segment of the market, and we're doing it in an efficient way."

That doesn't mean the campaign will be a surefire hit. Its target audience is currently served by generic products and the OTC market, meaning Sucampo and Takeda will have to convince consumers that they need a prescription solution in the first place.

"We're not targeting a share-stealing campaign," Greenleaf said. "We know there's an unmet medical need for patients in this space right now. Our goal is to educate patients that there's another alternative, an innovative alternative that's out there."

- read the release

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