Eliquis partners BMS and Pfizer join the pharma crowd urging doctor visits during COVID-19

Pfizer building
Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb highlight three serious conditions in a new campaign urging people to seek medical attention when symptoms arise. (Tracy Staton)

Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb are the latest drugmakers to join the swell of campaigns promoting doctor visits during the pandemic.

Focused on three health conditions—atrial fibrillation, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, all treated by the partners' anticoagulant Eliquis—the BMS-Pfizer Alliance launched a campaign including TV ads to raise awareness and encourage people to seek prompt medical attention.

“We now have data that shows that many people haven’t been going to their primary care appointments, which likely means they are not speaking to their doctors about the symptoms that may be related to potentially serious conditions,” Michelle Calope, vice president and U.S. head of cardiovascular and established brands at Bristol Myers Squibb, said in an email interview.

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Primary care office visits dropped by 50% from April through June compared to the same time period in the previous two years, IQVIA reports. While telehealth did increase, the net loss in physician visits still amounted to about 20%.

The “No Time to Wait” campaign includes two 30-second broadcast and streaming TV ads, broadcast and streaming radio, digital banners and social media ads. The campaign website offers more information and links to outside resources.

Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb co-market anticoagulant superstar Eliquis, which raced to blockbuster sales in recent years. The clot fighter brought in $7.7 billion in 2019 and holds a sizable lead over warfarin alternative competitors, including Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Xarelto and Boehringer Ingelheim’s Pradaxa.

Eliquis sales for the first six months of 2020 topped $4.8 billion, a 21% increase over the same time period last year.

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The new TV ads feature real doctors who speak directly to the camera, explaining how or why symptoms might mean something more serious and encouraging people to speak to a healthcare professional “by phone, online or in person.”

Raja Mukherjee, Pfizer’s VP of cardiovascular and metabolics marketing in the U.S., said. “We wanted to capture the reality of the situation. Both Dr. Andrea Russo and Dr. Jenice Baker are on the frontlines providing medical care and have observed that people may be delaying medical care this year.”