Flattened by the flu? Roche's Genentech launches first Xofluza consumer campaign

Roche's Genentech debuts first TV ads for flu med Xofluza looking to drum up consumer awareness as flu season hits. (Roche)

The first TV campaign for Xofluza from Roche Genentech depicts the fatigue and weakness that comes with flu. A suffering teacher vanishes, leaving behind only flattened clothing, to visually show how “the flu sucks everything out of you.”

The DTC works follows Genetech’s professional effort from last year for its next-gen flu treatment, a push that focused on educating healthcare providers. The new consumer campaign, which will run through the 2019-2020 flu season, includes TV, print, digital and social media as well as in-store ads.

“The goal for this creative campaign was to develop a single image that depicts the emotional experience of flu. We hear from patients that the fatigue and weakness that can come with the flu can be some of the hardest symptoms to power through. This ad depicts how it can feel like the flu 'sucks everything out of you,' which many viewers who have had the flu may be able to relate to directly,” a Genentech spokesperson said in an email interview.

The new work aims to raise awareness, as “public awareness of prescription treatment options remains low,” the spokesperson added.

RELATED: Roche’s single-dose flu drug Xofluza, Tamiflu’s successor, wins speedy FDA approval

The FDA first approved the drug last October and recently granted it an expanded OK for use by people with high risk of developing flu-related complications. At the time of approval, then-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said it was “the first new antiviral flu treatment with a novel mechanism of action approved by the FDA in nearly 20 years.” 

But education is necessary in part because the Xofluza oral pill must be taken within 48 hours of the first appearance of symptoms. Roche's promotional efforts highlight the limited window of opportunity for treatment in messaging and help with diagnosis. The Xofluza website includes a link to independent medical service PlushCare, where flu sufferers can book a telemedicine visit with a certified doctor to receive the treatment quickly and without having to leave home.

RELATED: Roche's Tamiflu follow-up Xofluza scores in flu-spreading study

For Roche, Xofluza is the new-age follow-up to its now off-patent blockbuster Tamiflu, with the company hopeful the newer drug can make up revenue lost to generics. So far, it's had a slow start, although flu season has yet to kick in. Roche reported sales of $6 million for Xofluza for the first half of 2019.