Horizon targets kidney docs with new gout awareness campaign starring malevolent uric acid

In a still from Horizon's new animated gout awareness video, kidney and uric acid "hang out," but trouble looms. (Horizon)(Horizon Therapeutics)

Uric acid takes a villainous turn in Horizon Therapeutics' latest gout awareness campaign. The acid appears as a personified jagged-edged cartoon bully to an affable kidney in Horizon’s animated two-minute movie to remind nephrologists that the uric acid that causes gout inflammation can damage kidneys.

While gout historically has been a rheumatological disease, research shows that gout and higher uric acid are linked to chronic kidney disease. Research to that effect, along with the animated video, is posted on the campaign website.

RELATED: Krystexxa shows signs of life as Horizon keeps pushing sales force expansion

The mini-movie shows everyone’s friend kidney treated unkindly by pretend friend uric acid, even as kidney’s other friends heart, foot, bone and hand watch disapprovingly. Eventually, kidney ends up spending too much unhealthy time with uric acid, who grows bigger and more menacing. In the end, kidney is down and out on the street after apologizing to his friends who are literally tortured by uric acid for letting the acid into the body they share.

“We wanted to be provocative and get them to engage with the campaign and do it in a rather unexpected way," Ingrid McPhilliamy, vice president of rheumatology marketing at Horizon, said. “We’ve shared this with a lot of nephrologists and we get audible laughs, and one nephrologist said this is ridiculously engaging. If you watch the end of the video, it is rather hard-hitting in terms of really tying to portray what a gout patient might think about their uncontrolled gout.”

The online video is the first in what is a planned “saga” for later this year, exploring what happens next to the kidney as it tries to get back on track, McPhilliamy said. Educational collateral, including leave-behind postcards of the animated kidney and uric acid, will be distributed by sales reps.

RELATED: Truth, lies and statistics: Horizon targets docs with myth-busting gout campaign

The healthcare professional campaign builds on Horizon’s previous awareness campaign, “Gout Lies,” which targeted rheumatologists to highlight new research and developments around the lower-profile chronic disease. 

Horizon’s gout drug Krystexxa, which the company acquired in early 2016 in a Crealta asset sale, has grown as the company shifted its focus to patients with more severe and treatment-resistant gout. Kystexxa sales were $342 million in 2019, a 32% increase over sales of $259 million in 2018.