Amgen adds online cancer team narratives to Neulasta Onpro push

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Cancer patients and their care teams are taking center stage in Amgen's newest online campaign. The Neulasta Onpro effort, dubbed Neulasta Onpro Narratives, highlights patients’ and professionals’ cancer stories to encourage conversations, specifically about the risk of infection from low white blood cell counts—a risk Neulasta is approved to reduce.

"Sharing the personal experiences can help raise awareness and encourage patients to discuss the potential risk with their healthcare professional," an Amgen spokeswoman said via email.

The online campaign comes just over a year into Amgen’s first Neulasta Onpro-specific TV ad, titled "Support at Home," which began running last March. Amgen has spent more than $38 million on national TV airings of the ad, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv. The Onpro DTC campaign includes similarly themed print ads.

Neulasta lost its patent protection in 2015, and although no competing biosimilar has been approved yet, the Onpro on-body injector has been effective at extending Neulasta's lifecycle. Because Neulasta must be given the day after chemotherapy, the Onpro injector allows patients to automatically get the dose without having to return to a healthcare provider.

Tony Hooper, Amgen’s EVP of global commercial operations, told investors during an April Q1 call in regards to Neulasta, “We continue to drive increasing adoption and Onpro now represents over 50% share of all Neulasta purchases. This has been a great example of a very successful life-cycle management strategy.”

Neulasta sales increased 2% year-over-year for the first quarter, Amgen reported. Sales of Neulasta, which is Amgen’s second-best-selling drug, totaled $4.7 billion worldwide for 2016, marking a decrease of 1% from the previous year. Competitors vying to launch a biosimilar version include Novartis’ Sandoz division, which was turned down by the FDA last year, and Coherus Biosciences, which Amgen recently sued, claiming the company had engaged in employee poaching to gain proprietary knowledge about Neulasta.