Boehringer Ingelheim highlights Stiolto in new COPD awareness film

Dr. Breion Tafoya talks to her COPD patient Mary in a new online documentary from Boehringer Ingelheim.

Like many disease awareness films, Boehringer Ingelheim's new documentary about COPD tells stories through the experience of real patients. However, unlike most disease awareness films, this film also talks about Boehringer’s specific treatment, Stiolto Respimat.

About midway through the 25-minute movie, pulmonologist Breion Tafoya notes that Mary, who is one of three patients featured, suggested Stiolto as a drug choice, and Tafoya also talks about why both she and her patient like the drug. After that though, Tafoya reels off a laundry list of risks more typical of branded TV ads, including such warnings as “sudden shortness of breath that might be life-threatening.” The last four minutes of the film is a scrolling ISI with voiceover.

When asked why the company chose to make a film instead of a TV ad, Boehringer’s executive director for respiratory marketing, Sierra Towers, said in an email interview, “We wanted the film to be authentic, genuine and candid. So, we made a documentary to provide an honest, real-world observation of three different people living with COPD. … It’s important that we give the COPD community a voice. We wanted to shine a light on the physical and emotional impact of COPD and show that people with COPD just want to live their lives.”

To create the film, Boehringer Ingelheim researched and found Emmy-nominated director Abbey LeVine, who has a personal connection through her mother’s experience with the disease. Titled “Clear the Air: Opening Up About COPD,” the online movie debuted last week, and while it is available online in its full version, as well as shorter snippets from the film, Boehringer said it is still considering additional activities to push out the film.

RELATED: Boehringer faces uphill battle for Stiolto, thanks to payer arm-twisting

Stiolto, a LAMA/LABA combination COPD drug, won FDA approval in 2015, following in the footsteps of first-to-market LAMA/LABA competitor Anoro Ellipta from GlaxoSmithKline. AstraZeneca's Bevespi Aerosphere is also now on the scene, and the British pharma giant is working to bring fellow in-class med Duaklir to market, too.

Meanwhile, the film is not Boehringer's first in the respiratory space. In 2014, it backed a Discovery Channel effort highlighting idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.