Takeda aims to unlock $2B in Entyvio sales with multipronged DTC push

Takeda is going behind closed doors with its first DTC campaign for Entyvio, a new biologic treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases. Bathroom doors, that is.

The Japanese drugmaker uses a series of bathroom doors in its ad campaign, asking if it's "time for a different perspective." A :60 TV spot launched Feb. 7 and, according to real-time TV tracker iSpot.tv, to date has racked up $2.9 million on more than 2,000 airings. Print ads with a similar theme are running in magazines including Health and Men's Health. Digital, in-office and email marketing are also part of the Doors effort.

"This condition is such an isolating condition and such a stressful condition. Patients are kept from doing the important things they want to be doing in their lives and as a result they miss out on a lot," said James Berger, senior product manager at Takeda for Entyvio.

In testing many different creative ideas with Crohn's and ulcerative colitis patients, he said, the bathroom doors resonated well because patients noted it is a view they are all too familiar with.

Takeda's James Berger

"But some patients even took it to the next level in saying that the doors metaphorically represent that barrier between their disease and being able to do all of the things they want to do. Emotionally, we've touched upon the reality of their disease in a very obvious bathroom door representation, but also a representation of just barriers in general," Berger said. "Once we connect with them, we use that opportunity to talk about the differentiating factors of Entyvio."

Entyvio is also on Twitter, which it joined as a brand last October. There, along with general tweets about healthy eating and exercise, it has been running a more patient-centric campaign hashtagged #PeopleLikeYou. Each tweet in the campaign features a patient photo and a link to their individual stories on the Entyvio website. It currently has 125 followers.

The account is unusual in that few pharma companies set up Twitter accounts for branded drugs--the only other one that could be found is Novartis' ($NVS) Gilenya treatment for relapsing multiple sclerosis. Berger said creating and maintaining the account is not always easy, but said, "We feel it's important to get as close as we can to our patients."

Berger was recently named one of the top 25 DTC marketers of 2015 by DTC Perspectives for his work on Entyvio.

Analysts have projected blockbuster-level sales for Entyvio by 2020, and Takeda sees it hitting at least twice that. In the company's 2015 year-end financial presentation, Takeda wrote that Entyvio is "on the way to over $2 billion in peak sales" and reported that Entyvio's third quarter sales made it the company's No. 4 selling drug. Total Entyvio sales for 2015 were about $530 million (59.3 billion yen) versus $250 million (27.8 billion yen) for 2014. The drug was approved by the FDA in May 2014; it launched in June.

Marketing will be key to gaining share in a crowded IBD space where it's up against established Crohn's and ulcerative colitis brands such as AbbVie's ($ABBV) Humira, Amgen's ($AMGN) Enbrel, and Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Remicade and follow-up Simponi.

- watch the TV ad on iSpot.tv

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