Coffee talk: Sun brings Ilumya patient stories to light with informal diner meetups

Sun Pharma’s latest ad campaign opens in a Savannah, Georgia, diner. Four psoriasis patients on its treatment Ilumya meet for the first time to share coffee and similar stories.

Holly, Pete, Mike and Nancy talk in online videos about the creams and ointments and other oral or injectable treatments they’ve tried over the years. They confess to isolating themselves and staying at home to avoid people staring at their skin.

“This is like a dog chasing its tail; it doesn’t make sense,” Holly says in her deep southern drawl.

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The idea for the new “Patient Stories” campaign actually came long before the friendly diner meetups. In a recent one-on-one national survey with patients and doctors, Sun found recurring themes about longtime efforts to find treatments but also an interest from the patients to talk to other patients.

“They really valued the opportunity to talk to other patients and share their stories,” said Kyle Ferguson, Sun Pharma’s biologic business head and vice president of sales and marketing. “It’s not a revelation in our insights—it’s a continuation of our learning about how patients have been disconnected from the world because of their disease.”

Ferguson and his team decided to do just that, bringing them together for unscripted chats and taping them for the videos now on the Ilumya website. Social media, blogs and digital placements with the patients’ get-togethers are also in the works.

While the campaign doesn’t have a custom HCP execution, when Ferguson’s team shared the diner videos with the Sun sales team just to keep them up to date, many asked whether they could get copies to show their physician clients.

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“The common element is Ilumya,” Ferguson said. “What patients tend to go through is a cycle of hope and fear. They get a new drug prescribed, and they hope it’s going to work, but the fear is: Will this be like other therapies and stop working?”

Ilumya, approved in 2018, is an IL-23 inhibitor psoriasis med and, for now, the only one with five-year safety and efficacy data, he said. Other drugs in the class include AbbVie’s Skyrizi and Johnson & Johnson's Tremfya.

Sun reported sales of $143 million for Ilumya in its fiscal 2021, an increase of 51% year over year. The pharma has begun phase 3 trials for Ilumya in pursuit of an additional indication in psoriatic arthritis.