Horizon builds community around rare thyroid eye disease

Horizon Therapeutics’ latest awareness campaign looks to draw attention to thyroid eye disease and create social media communities for those affected. The effort comes on the heels of Horizon’s recent FDA biologic license acceptance and priority review grant for teprotumumab to treat thyroid eye disease (TED).

“Listen to Your Eyes” was developed based on patient, physician and advocacy leader input. Through research and an ongoing patient council, Horizon found that not only is the disease unknown and misunderstood, but also that patients are underserved when it comes to education and information, Keli Walbert, Horizon VP and general manager of ophthalmology, said in an email interview.

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“This campaign raises awareness of the need to see a specialist, such as an ophthalmologist or an oculoplastic surgeon, at the first sign of changes in the eyes, before the disease progresses to the point where the damage can become severe and permanent,” Walbert said.

The work also includes social media pages for patients to share experiences based on feedback from many patients who told Horizon that the pain and disfigurement, along with the vision difficulties of TED, can lead to isolation, loneliness and depression.

“We created the ‘Listen to Your Eyes’ Facebook page to provide patients and caregivers with a place to come to not only learn about TED but also hear from others who truly understand what they’re going through. Our hope is that this Facebook page helps people feel less alone and empowered to advocate for their eye health,” Matt Flesch, VP of communications and patient advocacy at Horizon, said.

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In September, Horizon notched a priority review from the FDA for teprotumubab to treat TED, with an anticipated accelerated six-month review process. It would be the first drug approved to specifically treat the rare autoimmune eye disease. This past summer, Horizon bulked up its sales force to back the drug, hiring 40 to 45 reps in preparation of its approval.