Lilly ad campaign in U.S. newspapers offers diabetes med help for patients affected by COVID-19 shutdowns

Eli Lilly wants diabetes patients who use its drugs to know that help is available, and to get the word out, it bought full-page ads in more than a dozen newspapers in the U.S. The simple print ads, which ran Monday, spoke directly to people who recently lost jobs or health insurance and told them to contact the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center for help.

Driven by COVID-19 shutdowns and job losses in the millions, Lilly had already seen a 32% increase in call volumes to the diabetes help call center. After the ads ran Monday, call volume jumped by 91% over the previous Monday, March 23. The 340 incoming calls marked the highest single-day call volume since the program began in August 2018.

“We expect the numbers to continue to rise as different states take measures from a quarantine standpoint and as more and more people are affected through loss of job or loss of insurance, or if they just weren't aware previously of the diabetes solution center,” said Andy Vicari, senior director of Lilly’s insulin business in the U.S.

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Lilly did a similar ad campaign in December to highlight the diabetes help center in an effort to reach people whose healthcare deductibles were about to reset, he said. The ad tells people they may be able to get free insulin and that the calls are simple and average 10 minutes, and it also mentions that Spanish-speaking staff members are available. Lilly's insulin meds supported through the solution center include its Humalog family of products. Other Lilly non-insulin diabetes treatments not in the program include GLP-1 receptor agonist Trulicity and SGLT2 inhibitor Jardiance in partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim.

While Lilly doesn’t deliver meds directly to patients, it can help callers navigate pharmacies that do, as well as sign up those who qualify for Lilly Cares, a non-profit run under the Lilly Foundation. For people with diabetes who call but don’t use Lilly meds, the call center staff redirects them to assistance programs from the drugmaker whose products they do use, Vicari said.

The campaign will run on social media along with the print ads that ran in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Newark, New Jersey, and Columbus, Ohio. Digital and radio ads that began in December with the previous diabetes solution center campaign are still running and continuing through April.

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Lilly’s now staying-at-home field force is also helping the effort, doing outreach to healthcare professionals. The reps are not making sales calls but rather, as Vicari said, calling to ask, “What do you need and how can we help?” Lilly reps can give information on the patient diabetes programs or help provide other resources, such as samples for new patients, that doctors can use.