Merck KGaA launches story-sharing template to help MS patients chronicle journey

Merck KGaA's pharma group, EMD Serono, launched My Story for MS patients and caregivers to help chronicle their journey.(Source: EMD Serono)

For patients and caregivers, telling their personal stories can be empowering. So Merck KGaA’s EMD Serono group created a new My Story feature that helps people affected by multiple sclerosis tell others about their journey.

A “storybook” template guides patients and caregivers in building a customized PDF with pictures and stories of their MS journey. The story creators can then share privately via email with family and friends, or share with the larger EMD Serono MS LifeLines community by posting to a library in the My Story section.

“Regardless of how they decide to share their story, it gives them that outlet to express pain, fear, hope, joy, admiration—everything that goes along with a patient journey," David Nichols, senior director of advocacy and state government affairs at EMD Serono, told FiercePharma. "… It’s not just another marketing campaign where we’re putting up a stock image of a person and having them tell their story. It’s creating organic growth of storytelling about MS, and that's a real opportunity."

EMD Serono markets relapsing MS treatment Rebif, a standard treatment, but one that’s facing increasing competition the new generation of approved oral meds—Biogen’s Tecfidera, Novartis’ Gilenya and Sanofi’s Aubagio. It's also expected to get some additional pressure from Roche’s Ocrevus, which has not yet been approved.

My Story follows another recent EMD Serono campaign for MS patients that helps find local MS-certified fitness trainers.

To get the word out about My Story, EMD Serono will reach out to its MS LifeLine community and Facebook page and the larger MS community through patient advocacy groups, with more digital marketing planned for later in the year, Brian Walsh, senior director of marketing, neurology and immunology at EMD Serono, told FiercePharma.

My Story launched with three stories—two from patients and one from a caregiver—with Walsh adding that “hopefully three will multiple very quickly.”

Merck KGaA isn't the only company focusing on storytelling as an outlet for patients and caregivers. Earlier this month, Amgen teamed up with oral history nonprofit StoryCorps to record and share firsthand accounts from myeloma patients, caregivers, advocacy groups, physicians and others as part of its “Blood Counts” campaign.