BMS encourages cancer patients to look 'Beyond Chemotherapy' in new unbranded campaign

Cancer Care
The common dread around chemotherapy is behind Bristol Myers Squibb's new lung cancer awareness effort. (iStock/Getty images)

A cancer diagnosis is never easy, and one of the most common patient fears is chemotherapy. Bristol Myers Squibb’s new “Beyond Chemotherapy” awareness effort looks to assure lung cancer patients that there may be another way to manage the disease. 

A 30-second TV spot features various people looking out of windows while a voice-over says, “A lung cancer diagnosis can leave you holding your breath.” Patients breathe on a window, fogging it up, and write various cancer-treatment related questions into the condensation, including: “Will I need chemo?”

BMS’ answers come written the same way on windows, with the final promise, “We’re looking beyond chemo.”

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While the spot, which first aired in May, is unbranded, BMS’ blockbuster immuno-oncology drug Opdivo is now approved as part of a chemo-free regimen for some previously untreated lung cancer patients.

In May, Opdivo got its first non-small cell lung cancer first-line approval in combination with fellow BMS checkpoint inhibitor Yervoy for patients whose tumors test positive for biomarker PD-L1. Just a few weeks later, BMS received another first-line nod for the two drugs, this time given alongside two cycles of platinum chemo.

Both the non-chemo and chemo options for the BMS drug pair, however, still face stiff competition from archrival Merck & Co.’s Keytruda. Keytruda has been grabbing first-line market share for three years on the back of data showing it could cut patients’ death risk by 51% when combined with chemo.

A first-ever branded Opdivo-plus-Yervoy branded TV commercial began last week and includes the message that the tandem is the "first and only approved chemo-free combination of two immunotherapies." The TV ad recalls the earliest Opdivo work, reviving the phrase, "a chance to live longer," first used in Opdivo's 2015 debut commercial.

The new BMS TV ad taps into the appeal of the possibility to treat cancer without chemotherapy, typically a grueling process with lasting effects.

The final visual in the ad is the word “hope” written into the condensation, followed by a call to visit the campaign website for more information.

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While BMS hadn’t focused on the chemotherapy message previously, it has run awareness campaigns across a range of cancer topics since 2015, when it started driving recognition for immuno-oncology. It most recently enlisted popular “This is Us” actor Sterling K. Brown for the campaign “Survivorship Today” to raise awareness of the struggles cancer survivors may face post-treatment.