Akili launches first marketing for FDA-approved ADHD video game

Akili’s newly launched treatment for ADHD is a prescription—but not a drug. It's a video game. And the company is taking a fittingly digital approach to launching the first-of-its-kind FDA-approved product.

The company's consumer marketing campaign for the EndeavorRx game centers on social media, while its distribution relies on a digital-first model.

The consumer campaign, “Made for the Mind You Love” is debuting on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, while the company considers Snapchat and other paid media.

In an initial 30-second video on Instagram, a young boy named Dylan plays as his mother speaks in voiceover about his love for vegetarian dinosaurs—and how that love sometimes gets in the way of less-fun tasks like homework. She talks about how the family uses EndeavorRx to improve Dylan's attention.

With the campaign just underway, Akili is still working on efforts with influencers, including healthcare professionals and parent caregivers who have a big presence in ADHD circles, Chief Marketing Officer Meghan Rivera said. The company is planning a website update with the new campaign copy next month.

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Akili originally planned to go the traditional prescription treatment route using patient call centers and faxed prescriptions, but it just wasn't scalable enough, Rivera said, so they turned to a digital-first model.

Working with a company called Phil Pharmacy, Akili now uses an entirely digital process. By the time the patient's parent walks out of the doctor's office, they should have a text from the pharmacy with an activation code. Therapeutic play can begin within hours.

The target market is almost "like a living and breathing organism," Rivera said which means Akili will continue to refine and adjust the gaming platform as they learn more and find what resonates with patients and parents.

Each EndeavorRx prescription lasts 96 days and costs $450, which comes to about $150 a month. Akili offers assistance to people without insurance which brings the cost below $100 a month. Those price points are “exactly in line with what parents are used to paying related to branded generics that exist on the market today in the stimulant space," Rivera said.

EndeavorRx is only available in Apple's iOS format for use on phones and tablets, but Akili plans to bring it to Android as well, which Rivera says should open up access and avoid treatment disparities.

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Akili first nabbed permission to go to market before the actual FDA approval, thanks to the emergency COVID-19 bill passed last spring. The company released a free OTC version and studied its use until the final FDA approval, which specifically covers children ages 8-12 in conjunction with traditional meds, in June 2020.

Aiming to reach doctors as well as parents, Akili is planning targeted digital media and non-personal promotions, and it's deploying a small sales team.

Because the product is unique in the field, Rivera is embracing the earned media mentions and word-of-mouth buzz. Even more exciting, though, is that the clinical community reaching out to her.

“It’s such a cool thing to see … when doctors are calling you and want to make lunch appointments and all of that—it's a really exciting time,” she said.