Johnson & Johnson joins psoriasis rivals Novartis, Lilly on the tube with new Tremfya ad

J&J's newest biologic to treat psoriasis, Tremfya, launched its first DTC ad campaign this month. (Image: J&J)

Move over, psoriasis drug marketers—Tremfya has joined the broadcast. The next-gen biologic from Johnson & Johnson's Janssen began airing its first DTC campaign two weeks ago, joining two other new-age drugs already tearing up the psoriasis market and grabbing TV time.

Both Novartis’ Cosentyx and Eli Lilly's Taltz have spent big on TV to establish their brands. Novartis has dropped more than $209 million on Cosentyx ads since January 2016, while Taltz, which got a later start in September that year, has since topped $161 million in TV media buys, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker

RELATED: J&J's next-gen psoriasis med tops Humira in head-to-head showdown

In the new TV ad, Tremfya takes on blockbuster Humira from AbbVie, noting that the drug “works better than Humira at providing clearer skin” and that “more patients were symptom-free with Tremfya.” The DTC campaign, created with Janssen agency of record McCann HumanCare, will also run in digital and social.

That's not to say Tremfya doesn't have plenty of other rivals. On the contrary, it's got three more direct ones, all of which beat it to market. Tremfya, which won approval last July, hopes to press its first-to-market status as an IL-23 inhibitor against IL-17s Cosentyx, Taltz, and third player Siliq from Valeant, which has not aired any TV ads.

RELATED: Does Valeant have the ad dollars to keep Siliq competitive in psoriasis?

“We discovered and developed Tremfya building upon our understanding of the disease and our experience with IL-12/23 blockade with Stelara,” a Janssen spokesperson said in an email interview. “…With the launch of our Tremfya direct-to-consumer campaign, we hope to connect with these patients, show that we understand the seriousness of their illness and educate them about Tremfya as a recently approved option for adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.”

The future looks bright for the new crop of psoriasis meds, which has quickly stolen market share from older anti-TNF psoriasis biologics such as Humira, Amgen’s Embrel and J&J’s own Stelara. All three of those companies also market their products heavily on TV, although Stelara may be making way for its new sibling. It last aired any TV ads in July, according to iSpot data. Still, Tremfya does face another pending competitor from AbbVie in prospect risankizumab.

Tremfya sales have been brisk so far. The med generated $47 million in the fourth quarter, and Janssen investor relations VP Joseph Wolk told investors on the company's Q4 earnings call that “the product is already the new to brand share leader when accounting for both IMS Claims Data and internal data on samples.” Analysts expect the J&J med to grab enough share to yield $1.56 billion in 2022 sales, according to EvaluatePharma's latest World Preview report.

The new advertising is also getting good reviews, Janssen said. In market research, plaque psoriasis patients responded favorably to the campaign. The spokeswoman noted one patient’s comment: “I like that it showed how psoriasis affects your daily life and it made me feel the makers of Tremfya understand me. The statistics about it being better than Humira surprised me and gave me a lot of confidence in the brand.”