Kyowa Kirin's awareness message for physicians goes beyond skin-deep for Poteligeo rare cancer drug

Jeffrey is one of three patient ambassadors in Kyowa Kirin's Poteligio campaign targeting healthcare providers. (Kyowa Kirin)

Kyowa Kirin wants physicians to make the link between rare cancers that present on the skin to the blood connection underneath.

Its new “Treat the Blood, Treat the Skin” campaign for Poteligeo, which is approved to treat two types of cutaneous lymphomas—mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome—is built on the insight that physicians often think of them as diseases of the skin.

Kyowa Kirin’s “a-ha moment” came after studying Poteligeo data published last month showing the efficacy and safety in different blood classifications for the cancers, Kevin Lynch, senior director and oncology marketing lead at Kyowa Kirin in the U.S. said.

The new campaign is meant to drive healthcare providers to consider “measuring and monitoring blood involvement to inform treatment selection and improve patient outcomes,” he added.

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Along with the digital campaign—including search, display and social media marketing—three Kyowa Kirin patient ambassadors are sharing their individual stories but with the similar thread of many years and doctors to get to diagnosis and treatment.

“In rare diseases, people are really eager to connect with and learn from other people like themselves. Someone who can truly understand what that journey is like and what they’re going through,” Susan Thiele, director of advocacy and brand communications, said. "Ultimately they’re looking for hope and want to hear some success stories. That was really the jumping-off point for why we thought it was important to drive the patient voice forward.”

Kyowa Kirin plans to continue adding more patients as the campaign evolves. The pharma is planning a consumer-facing campaign for early next year, Lynch said.

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Along with the digital campaign, Kyowa Kirin’s sales force is talking directly to physicians about the blood messaging.

However, pandemic hurdles remain in getting back to face-to-face visits. Lynch noted that in general 30-35% of oncologists are seeing reps now, which remains lower than average but continues to slowly go back up. Kyowa Kirin has the added challenge of patients going first to dermatologists who often see the cutaneous lymphomas' skin rash symptoms that can look like eczema or psoriasis but may not realize the cancer connection.

Patients can get “stuck” at dermatologists before finally getting to oncologists who are more familiar with cutaneous T-cell lymphomas, Lauren Walrath, VP of public affairs in the U.S., said.

Kyowa Kirin faces the “challenges of bridging the multidisciplinary practices as well as the challenges of reaching physicians during a pandemic,” she said.