AstraZeneca drafts 'Arrested Development' star to promote blood tests for severe asthma

AstraZeneca is partnering with actor and asthma sufferer Tony Hale to raise awareness about a severe type of asthma—and promote the drugmaker's free blood test to diagnose the condition.

The “Veep” and “Arrested Development” star will discuss his own asthma struggles and encourage fellow asthma patients to seek personalized treatment. Eosinophilic asthma, which AstraZeneca's Fasenra is approved to treat, responds to drugs differently than other asthma types.

At an AZ-sponsored e-asthma website, patients can find out whether they qualify for a free blood test at a nearby testing location. They can then schedule or walk in for the simple test. Results are delivered to the person’s account in two to three days; AZ advises test takers to speak to their primary care doctors or asthma specialists about the results.

Hale will appear on several broadcast and online outlets this week to talk about the campaign, an AstraZeneca spokesperson said via email. The actor's asthma story will also be featured in online and social media channel communications.

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Two-time Emmy winner Hale said in a press announcement that he wishes he had known sooner about blood testing for asthma type and hopes to educate others to talk to their doctors.

“By connecting directly with people like Tony, we are able to quickly get the word out about the importance of learning what can be driving an individual’s asthma symptoms because it’s not the same for everyone and knowing the cause can better help target the care patients receive,” said Mina Makar, AstraZeneca’s senior VP of U.S. respiratory and immunology.

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AZ’s partnership with Hale comes amid tightening competition in the eosinophilic asthma category. Fasenra competes with GlaxoSmithKline’s Nucala, and Sanofi and Regeneron’s Dupixent. Both Fasenra and Nucala work by inhibiting IL-5 to reduce eosinophil levels. Dupixent works by inhibiting IL-4 and IL-13 signaling.

All three are currently running DTC campaigns that include TV ads. AstraZeneca’s Fasenra effort encourages people to think about living a “Bigger Life,” while GSK promotes a “Nu Normal” for Nucala, and Sanofi and Regeneron’s Dupixent ad focuses on the potential to “Du More.”