AbbVie trio of immunology ads joins pharma chorus urging doctor visits during pandemic

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AbbVie new series of ads encourages people to keep seeing their doctors during the pandemic. (AbbVie)

Going to the doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic can be complicated. AbbVie is the latest pharma to launch a campaign to remind patients—in this case, patients with autoimmune diseases—that it’s also necessary.

Three new AbbVie TV commercials emphasize the importance of continuing care despite the pandemic. Each ad—one each for psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis—highlights the consequences of just ignoring these conditions and highlights safer ways to speak with a doctor.

People are “carefully considering how and when to seek medical care in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” an AbbVie spokesperson said via email, adding that the ads are a “new resource” to help them get information and support.

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AbbVie joins a handful of other pharma companies already urging people to get back on track with medical care. In the past few months, Merck & Co. implored parents to keep up their kids’ well visits and vaccinations, while AstraZeneca reminded people to continue with cancer screenings and Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies launched “My Health Can’t Wait” patient resources.

In the “Psoriasis: Inflammation” commercial, AbbVie posits that psoriasis isn’t just a skin condition, but a potential sign of inner inflammation that shouldn’t be left untreated. The 30-second spot is a kind of COVID-19 bingo of pandemic advertising—created using animation, encourages visits, portrays people wearing masks and cites telehealth options.

The Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis ad uses the visual metaphor of a slow-leaking roof that eventually leads to a deluge of water. The voiceover warns that while everyone is putting things off right now, “some things are too serious to be ignored.” It additionally warns that “damaging inflammation… if left untreated could get much worse.”

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The final spot, addressing rheumatoid arthritis, has a less-obvious COVID-19 message, only noting “especially in these times, it’s important to keep up with your rheumatologist.” The emphasis is on the danger of leaving flare-ups untreated, depicted as a bicycle slowly coming apart as a woman rides it.

While the ads are unbranded, AbbVie's portfolio of immunotherapy drugs treat the trio of disorders. Those meds include megablockbuster anti-TNF Humira, approved for all three of the conditions mentioned in the ads; IL-23 inhibitor Skyrizi, approved for psoriasis; and next-gen JAK inhibitor Rinvoq, approved for rheumatoid arthritis.