With the nights drawing in, Bausch Health is taking the plunge on the first-ever TV spot for its seasonal affective disorder (SAD) drug Aplenzin. The ad is designed to encourage people who withdraw, oversleep and overeat as fall turns to winter to talk to their doctors about ways to manage their symptoms.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which now goes by Bausch, won (PDF) FDA approval for Aplenzin in SAD 11 years ago but never committed to a TV campaign in the indication. Now, one year after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services clarified the coding for the indication, Bausch has launched “Looking Forward,” a campaign it is calling the first-ever TV commercial for a drug to prevent autumn-winter SAD.
The ad opens with plaintive piano playing over footage of a woman flicking through a calendar of photos of herself. Starting in May, the photos show the woman looking happy throughout the summer months, gardening and toasting marshmallows on a fire. But the tone changes in the fall months, when we see the woman looking anxious and staring out of a window.
Over the footage, the voiceover explains that they noticed their mood changing with the seasons. “I felt depressed, avoided my family and friends, gained weight and slept too much during the colder months,” the woman says.
A conversation with a healthcare professional led to a diagnosis of SAD, which the woman calls a serious medical condition and a type of depression that can occur in the fall and winter. “When treated with medication, SAD is preventable,” the woman says. “To help manage my seasonal depression, my healthcare professional prescribed Aplenzin.”
The Aplenzin line is the cue for a shift in tone. The music lifts and the woman, who was previously sitting on a sofa looking depressed, is seen happily cooking, getting dressed and leaving the house. The ad ends with a call for people to talk to healthcare professionals to “stay ahead of depression,” with the first letter of each word highlighted to spell SAD.
Bausch, which will run the ad on connected TV throughout the winter, is supporting the commercial with new content on the Aplenzin website. The site now hosts “Real Talk,” an engagement campaign intended to help patients by providing resources such as a tool for starting conversations with doctors. Bausch is pushing Aplenzin ahead of the anticipated loss of exclusivity on the drug in 2026.