A silver lining to Mylan's EpiPen debacle? In the anaphylaxis awareness biz, absolutely

Mylan's multimillion-dollar spending on an anaphylaxis awareness ad yielded more than 1 billion TV impressions in less than 90 days. But the storm of free publicity for anaphylaxis since the EpiPen pricing scandal hit may have been more valuable.

Mylan spent more than $13 million on an anaphylaxis awareness ad this year, winning more than 1 billion TV impressions in less than 90 days. But the storm of free anaphylaxis publicity since the EpiPen pricing scandal hit? Priceless.

If there's a silver lining to the pricing brouhaha, this is it. While the media drubbing over the rising cost of EpiPens turned the spotlight again on pharma pricing, it also put a huge amount of attention on the dangerous allergic reaction. Thousands of articles--and a similar abundance of TV news reports--focused in on the pricing scandal, but they almost always mentioned dangerous anaphylactic reactions, too.

And now that the initial news storm has subsided, writers have turned to their own allergy and anaphylaxis experiences. A 24-year-old woman with peanut and tree nut allergies wrote a column Wednesday in The New York Times about using EpiPens 12 different times to save her life.

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Ironically, before the pricing media storm began, Mylan had launched a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to raise awareness about anaphylaxis. The company told FiercePharmaMarketing when the ad launched in late April that it created the shocking “Face Your Risk” TV ad because the general public doesn't take anaphylaxis seriously enough.

The unbranded ad, which is labeled with the Mylan brand but doesn't mention EpiPen, got attention quickly from the allergy community and beyond for its ultra-realistic portrayal of a peanut-allergic young woman's reaction after accidentally eating a tainted brownie.

Mylan pushed the TV ad aggressively in the three months it ran, spending $13.5 million and airing it almost 6,000 times, according to real-time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv. More specifically it ran the ad 43 during the Rio Olympics coverage.

The ad hasn't run since August 24, several days into the pricing scandal. 

All that spending yielded more than 1 billion TV impressions in less than 90 days, and yielded an impressive completion rate of 95%.That’s the number of people who watched the ad through to the final quartile as measured by iSpot.

Meanwhile, online video views of the “Face Your Risk” ad have continued to stack up. It currently has 5.5 million views on YouTube, including a spike after it first launched in May and another in August. By comparison, AstraZeneca’s opiod induced constipation awareness campaign, which made its debut during the Super Bowl and was much discussed in the media, has been viewed 2.6 million times to date on YouTube.

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