Gilead's first big TV push for triple combo Biktarvy showcases HIV diversity

Gilead Sciences wanted to represent the wide range of people living with HIV in its first national TV campaign for Biktarvy. So they chose black, Latino, male, female, gay, bisexual and transgender actors for an ad that encourages people with HIV to “keep being you.”

The ad's voiceover lists the many things people living with HIV should "keep on" doing—loving, aspiring, striving, creating—as it shows images of people exercising, cooking, painting, playing music and hanging out with friends.

The ad ends with this encouragement: “If you’re HIV-positive, keep loving who you are—inside and out. Ask your doctor if Biktarvy is right for you.”

Approved in February 2018, Biktarvy is a three-drug combo pill that zoomed to blockbuster status, racking up $1.18 billion in that first not-quite-full year of sales. It competes with GlaxoSmithKline’s ViiV Healthcare unit treatment Juluca, Johnson &Johnson’s Janssen HIV drug Symtuza and Merck’s Delstrigo—all, like Biktarvy, approved within the past 18 months. And GSK recently nabbed an approval for its vaunted two-drug combo, which is also aiming to take a bite out of Biktarvy sales.

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“Social and economic marginalization leaves certain communities to bear the brunt of the U.S. epidemic. Black, Latino and white gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men; Black cisgender women who have sex with men; and transgender women who have sex with men, notably transgender women of color," Gilead wrote in a statement emailed to FiercePharma.

"We hope that the diverse talent in our TV spot is relatable to our audience," Gilead added, "and that motivates them to talk to a healthcare provider to find out more about HIV and Biktarvy."

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Of course, Gilead's ad also aims to drive awareness of Biktarvy as a new treatment option.“Rapid and effective treatment of new infections is essential" to wiping out the HIV epidemic in the U.S., the company said.

The Biktarvy TV ad began running in mid-March but has already tallied almost $18 million in TV media spending, according to real-time TV ad tracker Gilead said the ad is also running on online platforms including the website.