Lung cancer diagnosis and treatment are tough enough in the best of times. AstraZeneca’s new campaign aims to help patients going through both, at a time when it's especially difficult because of the pandemic.
“Notes of EnCOURAGEment,” launched to coincide with November’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month, taps the wisdom and assistance of people who've already been through treatment to help patients who may not be able to get support in person.
Patients who sign up for the program receive cheery, brightly colored notecards in the mail every month, followed up with email. Each card contains specific information related to the stage of treatment the person is going through. Along with inspirational messages, the cards contain practical information, such as how to find financial support and transportation help and how to manage side effects.
The goal of the project is to encourage non-small cell lung cancer patients, especially those diagnosed at stage 3, to complete their prescribed treatment. AstraZeneca's Imfinzi is the lone PD-1/L1 cancer treatment approved in the stage 3 setting.
"We’ve had feedback that sometimes it's difficult, and this whole campaign is to provide that support and encouragement to complete the regimen," Kevin Lokay, AZ's immuno-oncology franchise head in the U.S., said.
While COVID-19 affected the project by limiting in-person interviews, the main idea of empathy and support driving the campaign works during a pandemic or not. AstraZeneca plans to roll out similar programs for all types of lung cancer and beyond to include its other therapeutic areas.
Since 2014, AstraZeneca has focused on oncology, rolling out several therapies, including Imfinzi, kinase inhibitor Calquence, PARP inhibitor Lynparza and EGFR-targeted med Tagrisso. In lung cancer, Imfinzi, which topped $1.47 billion in sales last year, is under priority review for a new four-week, fixed-dose regimen in its approved indications of non-small cell lung cancer and bladder cancer.