Boehringer Ingelheim's global IPF effort asks 'why wait?' for treatment in campaign aimed at doctors

Even after diagnosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patients often delay treatment because they don’t feel "sick enough." Boehringer Ingelheim wants to change that with a global campaign touting the benefits of intervening early on.

Called “Why Wait in IPF?” the social media campaign centers on the video story of a grandfather breaking the news about his IPF to his granddaughter. As he explains the incurable lung condition, the young girl asks “Why?” over and over—including after her grandfather says, “I’m told there are medicines that can help, but I’m not on them yet.”  

The effort is running outside of the U.S. with local executions that will vary by country, a spokesman for Boehringer said in an email interview. The campaign but will likely include collaborations with patient advocacy groups. The key countries in the first phase of the work are Germany and Japan, with the goal to expand in the coming months.

“Some patients might have a medical reason why they should not take the available drugs, or make an informed decision to not proceed with treatment. However, a number of patients do not get treatment immediately after diagnosis as they are not considered ‘sick enough,’” the spokesman said.

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“Like many forms of cancer, though, IPF is a disease with a fatal outcome," he added. "Patients with cancer don’t wait to get worse to be treated. We believe that for IPF the same approach could be considered.”

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In the U.S., Boehringer’s ongoing IPF awareness campaign called “Breathless” features New York Yankees all-star Bernie Williams, whose father suffered from IPF for years before he died in 2001. Boehringer Ingelheim markets IPF treatment Ofev, which competes with Roche’s IPF drug Esbriet. Sales of Ofev grew in the first half of 2017, by 67% to 429 million euros, BI reported in its most recent financials.