Astellas’ mission to turn menopause drug Veozah into a major product is ratcheting up a gear, with the drugmaker hitting go on a TV spot centered on how the recently approved therapy turns hot flashes into not flashes.
The ad, backed by the strumming of an acoustic guitar, starts in an elevator shaft. As the camera zooms in on a grill, we see inside the elevator, where a gray-haired Black woman, surrounded by other people, is sweating and looking uncomfortable. The female voice-over says “this is a hot flash” as the words “hot flash” appear on screen in all caps.
We then see a middle-aged white woman getting out of bed, pulling her hair back and sitting in front of a fan. This, the voice-over tells us, is a hot flash. As the music shifts and a vocal comes in, we see our first “not flash,” two women looking happy and comfortable while taking a selfie at a marina on a sunny day.
That scene marks the moment that Astellas starts pushing Veozah as the way to turn hot flashes into not flashes. The next scene shows a smiling woman, clad in a black leather jacket, walking through a hallway and putting on a scarf as the voice-over says “there's big news for women going through menopause.”
The news is Veozah, a prescription drug that, as the ad says, is approved for use in moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms, the medical name for hot flashes and night sweats. The ad emphasizes that the drug is hormone free, through the voice-over and on-screen text, and spends its second half showing a string of women sleeping soundly, teaching, working and generally enjoying life without hot flashes.
Astellas has a lot resting on the campaign. The drugmaker picked up the treatment in its 2017 takeover of Ogeda, which cost it an initial 500 million euros ($550 million) with up to 300 million euros more to follow in milestones. The drugmaker spent a further 13.1 billion Japanese yen ($88 million) on a priority review voucher (PRV), only for the FDA to request an additional three months to complete its review anyway.
The PRV use reflects both Astellas’ belief that the treatment is part of a clutch of assets that can add $8.9 billion to its sales by 2025 and the presence of Bayer in the company’s rearview mirror. Bayer paid $425 million upfront to buy KaNDy Therapeutics for a potential rival to Veozah. Three phase 3 trials of Bayer’s contender are scheduled to wrap up by January, suggesting Astellas may have a short first-mover edge.