Eyeing Xofigo growth, Bayer launches 'speak up' campaign in prostate cancer

CHICAGO--New survey data show that 68% of men--nearly 7 in 10--sometimes ignore the symptoms of prostate cancer, putting off treatment for advanced forms of the disease. For Bayer--which markets cancer drug Xofigo to treat metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer--that's far too many.

To bring that tally down, Bayer has teamed with the International Prostate Cancer Coalition to introduce "Men Who Speak Up," a campaign meant to help men understand when it's important to talk to their doctors and seek treatment for prostate cancer symptoms.

At MenWhoSpeakUp.com, patients can find a symptom tracker, a doctor discussion guide, stats and other information about the disease, and the German pharma also plans to coordinate local events across the country to "encourage men to join the movement," Jeffrey Bova, marketing VP and head of Bayer's prostate cancer franchise, told FiercePharmaMarketing via email.

"The program brings together the collective voices of prostate cancer--the doctors who treat it, the patients and caregivers who live it and the advocacy groups who support them--to inspire the community and deliver informational tools and resources to those who need them most," he wrote.

The campaign rollout results from the pair's Prostate Cancer Symptoms Survey, which showed that talking about pain made 22% of respondents feel weak. And 71% of men admitted they weren't sure what was causing their pain to begin with.

"These symptoms can have a major impact on daily life, but men don't always recognize them," Bova wrote. "Even if they do, they may not always act on them, as men are guided from the time they are young to grit their teeth and play through any discomfort they may experience."

And Bayer--which is looking to Xofigo for a hefty chunk of its pharma sales going forward--needs to make sure that patients both understand where the pain is coming from and feel comfortable discussing it with physicians. The med--along with fellow cancer-fighter Stivarga, eye treatment Eylea, pulmonary arterial hypertension treatment Adempas and new-age anticoagulant Xarelto--helps form a group of new launches that's expected to pull in €4 billion this year. That's a substantial leap from last year's €2.9 billion tally.

The expectations don't end there. Last March, company CEO Marijn Dekkers said the Big 5 would help Bayer aim for an average of 8% annual growth in its pharma unit through 2016.

As time goes on, Bayer expects Xofigo to get some boosts, VP and Oncology General Manager Shannon Campbell and Head of Global Development, Specialty Medicines David Weinreich told FiercePharmaMarketing at this year's American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.

Because of how Xofigo targets the bone, other cancers that have a preference for metastasizing to the bone--such as hormone-positive breast cancer and multiple myeloma--fit with its potential mechanism of action, Weinreich said, and the company plans to study the drug in those settings. 

"What the market really likes about Xofigo, from our experience, is that this mechanism of action that Xofigo has is really intriguing," Campbell said. "People look at that and say, 'There's a lot of opportunity.'"

- read Bayer's release

Special Report: The top 15 pharma companies by 2014 revenue - Bayer | Top 10 best-selling cancer drugs of 2013 | The new drug approvals of 2013 - Xofigo

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