Gilead's Harvoni ads go from before to after with new creative focused on hep C cure

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Gilead tweaked its messaging for hep C drug Harvoni recently, moving from launch work to ongoing advocation for treatment.

Gilead is adjusting its message in new advertising for hepatitis C drug Harvoni, replacing its two-year-old introductory ad with a spot highlighting patients' relief after treatment. Three key words: "I am cured."

“Let Go” replaces “I Am Ready” as the new theme in the marketing effort, which is meant to reach patients who've been diagnosed with hep C, but haven't undergone treatment, a spokeswoman for Gilead said. In a just over one week on the air, the TV ad has tallied more than $6.4 million in national media spending, with the bulk of airings occurring in primetime, according to data from real time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv.

In the ad, dozens of people walk through a desert carrying Chinese lanterns, which they light and release skyward as the day turns into night. The voiceover assures viewers: "I no longer live with the uncertainties of hep C, wondering what if? I let go of all those feelings because I am cured, with Harvoni."

The campaign will also include digital and paid search ads, as well as point of care materials, the spokeswoman said.

The new ad also noted that Harvoni has been prescribed to a quarter of a million people—recent research from pharmacy benefits manage Prime Therapeutics reported that 97% of patients who had at least eight weeks of treatment with Harvoni have been cured.

Overall, about 600,000 people are estimated to have been cured of hep C in the U.S.—Gilead also markets component med Solvaldi, AbbVie sells Viekira Pak and Merck & Co. sells Zepatier, to name a few in the pack of new generation hep C therapies. Still, an estimated 3.2 million people in the U.S. have the chronic infection.

To reach the still-untreated, Gilead launched a disease awareness campaign late last year, encouraging baby boomers, who are five times more likely than the general population to have hep C, to get tested. That ad has racked up more than $41.7 million in national TV ad spending since it began in October, according to iSpot.tv estimates.

The awareness ad and the renewed creative for Harvoni come as sales of the drug are faltering, after initially taking off as one of the fastest drug launches ever. Sales have slumped for both Sovaldi and Harvoni—the latter dropped 34% in sales in 2016—thanks to competition, payer discounting and the inevitable slowdown of new patients, as many people who had hep C when the combo launched have now been treated.