Amgen adds bone drug Xgeva to pharma's cancer-related lineup on TV

Amgen launches first TV ad for Xgeva, or denosumab, its bone protection drug also marketed as Prolia. (Amgen)

Another cancer drug has leapt onto the TV airwaves, although this time, it’s a support player. Amgen’s Xgeva, approved to treat cancer-related bone problems, recently rolled a TV ad talking up the support and protection it can provide to patients whose disease has metastasized to the bone.

Once cancer has lodged in the bone, patients are at a higher risk of fractures and spinal cord compression, and their risk of needing bone-related surgery or radiation increases, too, Amgen said via email. The ad is part of Amgen's overall effort to educate patients about the risk of the serious problems that can follow a solid tumor's spread to the bone.

"We hope the message will help to educate patients and their caregivers and help them to have conversations with their physicians about what they can do to reduce their risk,” an Amgen spokesperson said in response to questions about the new TV spot.

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Xgeva was first approved in 2010 for patients with bone metastases from solid tumors, and last year picked up the additional nod for multiple myeloma.

The Xgeva ad comes amid a pharma move into higher-profile oncology advertising. Immuno-oncology stars Opdivo, from Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Keytruda, from Merck & Co., are among the drugs that have been featured in TV spots as the pharma business increases its reliance on cancer drugs for revenue growth.

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Xgeva is part of a suite of Amgen drugs used to support cancer patients. In its most recent third-quarter report, Amgen noted Xgeva sales of $433 million, a 12% increase over the same period in 2017, which it said was driven by higher unit demand. Xgeva, or denosumab, is also marketed by Amgen as an osteoporosis treatment under the brand name Prolia. The company has promoted Prolia through TV advertising for more than five years.