Amgen and Novartis tap TV host to jump-start migraine conversations—and fuel understanding

Amgen and Novartis are countering migraine stigma and giving advice to sufferers in its new "Know Migraine Mission" campaign featuring TV host Karamo Brown. (Amgen)

Aimovig makers Amgen and Novartis want to foster conversations about migraine to tackle the stigma that comes with the disease.

New spokes-celebrity Karamo Brown, host of the Netflix TV show “Queer Eye,” is leading its campaign to help people better understand the complexity of the disease.

“Know Migraine Mission” is the newly launched Aimovig platform to teach people migraine is a complex neurological disease, not just a bad headache. The website offers information and tips for dealing with migraine in daily life.

It also gives people the chance to ask Brown—a relationship expert known for his ability to get people to open up—for advice on how to balance life with migraine. The campaign includes social media posts on Aimovig's Instagram and Facebook pages. 

“He's an ideal ambassador for this program because he himself suffers from migraine, so he's able to really understand what they're going through,” Kacey Moore, executive director of marketing at Amgen, said. “His experience as a relationship expert really sets it up so well to be able to work with these patients to help them tell their story.”

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While geared toward people who suffer from migraine, the project's real emphasis is on the people who are one step removed, helping them better understand the impact of the disease and opening the door to honest conversations, she said. 

In an introductory video on the website, Brown, who is not an Aimovig user, chats with migraine blogger Michelle, who is. The two discuss how Michelle’s migraine episodes took over her life beginning at age 19 and explore the negative effects on her relationships with friends who couldn't understand. Brown offers her advice on how to be honest and cultivate better relationships.

The video was filmed before the COVID-19 pandemic to anchor a campaign launch in time for migraine awareness month in June. But, as the pandemic took hold, the team decided to delay the program until now for safety reasons.

With the extra stress of the pandemic and the additional work that comes with it, there has been a noted rise in migraine attacks, Moore said.

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“This is a great time for folks who suffer to really be thinking about how they can have the right conversations and the right connections with the people that they need support from right now,” she said.

Novartis and Amgen's anti-CGRP Aimovig launched in 2018. Sales totaled $306 million last year and $274 million through the third quarter this year. Aimovig leads the CGRP treatment category with a 46% share of total prescriptions ahead of competitors Eli Lilly's Emgality, Teva’s Ajovy and Lundbeck's Vyepti.