As Neurelis awaits an FDA decision on its flagship drug, the company has launched its first seizure awareness campaign.
Neurelis is hoping for an approval for nasal spray Valtoco to treat epilepsy patients six years of age and older who experience cluster or acute repetitive seizures. The drug is a rescue medicine that can stop seizures.
The campaign “Let’s Talk Seizures” looks to “revive” the discussion around the fact that some people with epilepsy who take anti-epileptic drugs still get seizures, Erin Adams, Neurelis' vice president of strategic marketing and portfolio planning, said.
“The unpredictability is the crux of what you see in this campaign. Raising discussion points is our objective here—what do you do when seizures happen and how can you be prepared to address this unpredictability? We want to re-raise awareness around the need for a seizure action plan or a seizure response plan,” she said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported recently that 56% of patients who take anti-epilepsy meds still experience seizures.
Neurelis’ Valtoco would be the third drug on market that works as a rescue medicine for people with epilepsy to use during seizures. The first approved was Bausch Health’s Diastat, and while it has proven effective at stopping seizures, it is a rectal gel delivered via syringe, which causes some people to shy away from its use. The second, UCB's Nayzilam, was approved last week as the first inhaled rescue med for seizure clusters.
Besides the physical danger and potential damage from prolonged seizures, people who have a history of them also face a psychological impact, according to Adams.
“This population has a high co-morbidity for anxiety and depression,” Adams said, noting that while it could be related to the epilepsy, these patients also go “through some pretty severe traumas and have a lot of anxiety provoking what-ifs hanging over their heads.”
The digital campaign will include social media influencers as well as epilepsy foundation partners and professional societies. While the campaign is aimed at the entire epilepsy community, Neurelis specifically wants to reach patients who have a propensity for that kind of seizure activity as well as the healthcare providers who treat them.
The FDA previously granted Neurelis an orphan drug designation for Valtoco in November 2015 and a fast-track designation in December 2016. In April, the company announced five new executive hires to support the anticipated launch.
Editor's Note: The story was updated to reflect UCB's Nayzilam approval May 20 as the first inhaled rescue medicine for epilepsy.