AbbVie prompts patients to 'take on' arthritis in first Rinvoq DTC ad

AbbVie's first TV commercial for Rinvoq shows empowered rheumatoid arthritis patients taking charge of life and their disease. (AbbVie)

To launch its new rheumatoid arthritis pill Rinvoq into an already crowded therapy area, AbbVie is leading with a DTC campaign meant to empower patients to “take on” the disease.

A newly debuted TV ad from the campaign shows active patients including an outdoor photographer, a mechanic and a home renovator with a voice-over advising them to “make it your mission” to fight the debilitating disease.

“The campaign is grounded in research and feedback from people living with RA across the country who are seeking meaningful improvement in their RA symptoms, rather than just powering through the day-to-day pain and fatigue,” AbbVie said in an emailed statement.

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JAK inhibitor Rinvoq was approved by the FDA in August and carries a list price of $59,000 per year. Its competitors in RA with similar mechanisms of action include Pfizer’s Xeljanz and Eli Lilly and Incyte’s Olumiant.

Despite the rivalry, though, AbbVie reported Rinvoq revenue of $33 million for the fourth quarter of 2019. It also recently snagged backing from England's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and, after a recent successful phase 3 readout, AbbVie expects to submit regulatory applications in psoriatic arthritis in the second quarter.

The Illinois pharma is looking to Rinvoq, along with a few other potential blockbusters, to help mitigate the loss of exclusivity for best-seller Humira as U.S. biosimilars ready for market. Industry watchers have high hopes for the med, too; they've pointed to an "AbbVie halo" that's made Rinvoq popular among rheumatologists in the early days of launch.

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"While Xeljanz still enjoys support from rheums given the drug’s seven-year commercial history, docs indicated Rinvoq as the most preferred JAK if only one were to be prescribed, citing safety, efficacy and breadth of data all as key advantages over Xeljanz," Piper Jaffray analyst Christopher Raymond wrote in a December note to clients, adding, "We find this remarkable in that Rinvoq was only just approved in August."