Grifols pushes for genetic COPD testing in Rare Disease Day campaign

In rare cases, the lung disease COPD can be genetic. So Wednesday, on Rare Disease Day, Grifols is launching an awareness campaign to encourage COPD patients to get tested.

Of the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. diagnosed with COPD, only about 100,000 have the genetic version, which is called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, or simply Alpha-1. Only about 10% of people who have Alpha-1 are aware they do.

The digital effort from Grifols, a plasma-derived therapies developer, will include online display ads and search engine optimization encouraging people to “Look into Genetic COPD” and drive them to a newly launched website where they can order a free AlphaKit test. COPD patients can then take the test to their doctor for potential diagnosis. Guidelines from the World Health Organization and American Thoracic Society recommend all people diagnosed with COPD get tested for Alpha-1.

Grifols is the maker of Prolastin-C, an augmentation therapy approved for use in adults with clinical evidence of emphysema due to severe hereditary deficiency of alpha1-PI. It has the largest market share of four treatments on the market—CSL Behring and Shire are the other two pharmas with treatments—and has been on the market the longest, approved by the FDA in 1988.

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This is the first time Grifols has launched a disease awareness campaign, and although it launches on Rare Disease Day, the effort will be ongoing.

“Our whole intent is to drive people to test for a genetic condition that looks like something else,” said Tessy Malone, senior director of pulmonary marketing at Grifols. “For healthcare providers, testing is not always top of mind and patients don’t know what to ask … We do know that COPD patients often go online to look for more information beyond taking medication about what they can do to prevent exacerbation and maintain a better quality of life.”