Truth, lies and statistics: Horizon targets docs with myth-busting gout campaign

Vintage posters tell the "lies" about gout in Horizon's new physician-targeted campaign to raise awareness. (Horizon)

Horizon Therapeutics wants doctors to know Gout Lies. That’s the new physician-targeted campaign to highlight new research and developments around the lower-profile chronic disease.

The push uses true-or-false, vintage-style posters, videos with experts and underlying data to highlight the scientific findings and unknown facts about gout. For example, even when gout isn’t causing pain, it can be working to damage bones, joints and tissues. As one of the vintage posters tells the lie: “Stomp Out the Flare and Gout’s Not There.” The truth revealed? “Gout is a chronic disease and can cause damage despite the absence of flares.”

“Physicians are certainly aware of gout and treatments for chronic gout, but if you think about gout in the context of all the diseases that rheumatologists treat, honestly, it is not the most exciting science-forward disease area,” said Ingrid McPhilliamy, vice president of rheumatology marketing at Horizon.

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Within the last 10 years, though, there has been breakthrough research around the mechanisms of gout, she said, and doctors, especially rheumatologists, may not have followed it. Horizon’s research found that, while awareness was low among doctors who treat gout, interest in learning more was high—hence the campaign.

The mostly digital campaign leads doctors to GoutLies.com, where two researchers explain in videos gout issues and developments, such as the constant damage caused by uric acid crystals and the bone erosion triggered by uric acid deposits called tophi. The website also points to guidelines from the American College of Rheumatology and European League Against Rheumatism, as well as additional published research.

RELATED: Ironwood dumps AstraZeneca gout drug Zurampic—and lays off 125 in the process

Horizon’s gout drug Krystexxa, which the company acquired in early 2016 in a Crealta asset sale, has grown as the company shifted its focus to patients with more severe and treatment-resistant gout. Kystexxa sales reached $259 million in 2018, an increase of 65% over $156 million in 2017.

The gout market is in flux now, though, with Takeda’s Urloric (febuxostat) dropping off patent next month and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals scrapping its U.S. marketing agreement with AstraZeneca for lesinurad, sold under the brand names Duzallo and Zurampic.

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