Too, too tired? Jazz launches awareness push aimed at sleep apnea sufferers

Excessive sleepiness caused by sleep apnea is at the center of a new campaign from Jazz Pharmaceuticals. (CollegeDegrees360/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Droopy eyelids might happen to anyone after a sleepless night, but for some people they're all too chronic—and Jazz Pharma wants to treat those people. That's why it's running a new awareness campaign to push the idea that sleep apnea sufferers don't have to put up with nodding off at work.

The awareness effort comes as Jazz awaits an FDA green light for solriamfetol, a candidate to treat excessive sleepiness in adult patients with obstructive sleep apnea or narcolepsy. And though Jazz is familiar with the narcolepsy market, thanks to its drug Xyrem, sleep apnea patients would be a new group for the company to target.

In the digital ad, a sleepy pair of eyeballs that Jazz calls “Lidz” struggles to keep its lids open as the voiceover notes that 3 out of 4 people with sleep apnea suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness. Called “A Different Kind of Tired,” the campaign is built around the results of a commissioned Harris Poll, said P.J. Honerkamp, senior VP and head of the sleep business unit at Jazz Pharmaceuticals, in an email interview.

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The online survey of sleep apnea patients and their partners found 36% of patients missed activities or events, avoided social situations or gave up activities because of excessive sleepiness, while half of their partners said their relationship has suffered. A startling 14% said they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel, either at a stop sign or red light, during the past year.

The upshot of that survey was that sleep apnea patients too sleepy to function during the day aren't fully engaging in their lives, Honerkamp said. Imagery showing people fading into backgrounds at work for instance, are meant to illustrate that they’re not fully present.

“While there is a consensus on the importance of sleep, the consequences of poor or disrupted sleep are often minimized," he said. "Individuals are praised for their ability to overcome sleepiness and consumers are inundated with potential solutions without ever understanding the underlying reasons for that sleepiness."

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An estimated 22 million people suffer from sleep apnea, and while many use continuous positive airway pressure machines, daytime sleepiness can remain an issue.

Jazz plans to expand the new marketing campaign—which now includes digital video ad placement and a dedicated website and Facebook page—to other media in 2019. The effort complements an already running prelaunch disease awareness campaign targeted at healthcare professionals. Jazz has said it will hire 50 sales representatives in the U.S. to handle the anticipated solriamfetol rollout.