GSK's national TV push for Nucala gives another meaning to 'new normal'

With the whole world dealing with the “new normal” of life during COVID-19, GlaxoSmithKline’s national TV ad for severe eosinophilic asthma drug Nucala, called “NuNormal,” would seem like a sign of the times. However, the theme was chosen long before the novel coronavirus began spreading around the world.

In fact, GSK began running its "new normal" message in online videos in late 2018, adding in addressable TV last year. The most recent move to a national TV ad campaign recognizes the ongoing awareness gap around eosinophilic asthma, said Carla Pearson, vice president of the U.S. specialty marketing team at GSK.

The evidence? Of the approximately 400,000 people with severe eosinophilic asthma, only 25% are on therapy even after five years of Nucala being on the market, not to mention competing drugs that have also since hit the scene.

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The thinking behind the ad, along with being a play on the brand name Nucala, was that it addresses patients' desire to get back to living their lives without fear of asthma attacks, Pearson said.

Patients, for instance, told GSK they don’t go outside during certain kinds of weather and tend to build their lives around avoiding asthma attacks that could end in hospitalization.

Before launching the national campaign, GSK did go back to patients and ask them if the idea of "new normal" was confusing or lost any of its power in light of its overuse around COVID-19. However, patients didn’t see it that way.

“It goes back to that core insight that patients are seeking to get back to normal. They’re seeking a life where asthma doesn’t control them and they are in control of the asthma, so it was quite motivating and relevant to patients to move forward with this idea of new normal, even in the current context,” Pearson said.

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Nucala was the first IL-5 inhibitor to win FDA approval, but AstraZeneca’s IL-5 blocker Fasenra scored its own FDA nod in 2017. Adding to the competition is Sanofi and Regeneron’s Dupixent, approved to treat eosinophilic asthma in 2018.

Nucala is also approved to treat eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis, and GSK has plans to file in rare hypereosinophilic syndrome in 2020. It's also investigating an indication in nasal polyps, with phase 3 data recently released. The drug logged sales of €768 million ($869 million) in 2019.