Neurocrine Biosciences turns to music to draw awareness to mental health

Neurocrine Biosciences recognizes the power of music in its latest disease awareness effort for mental health.

The company commissioned an original musical score and performance by the Me2/Orchestra, a unique classical music organization made up of musicians with mental illnesses and the people who support them.

The original score was inspired by the orchestra's members, half of whom have a diagnosed mental illness, and their experiences over the last six months during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The virtual video performance will debut Oct. 28 on the website of Neurocrine's "Monumental Moments" campaign.

Neurocrine had been in contact with the Me2/Orchestra over the last year trying to find the right opportunity to work together, and while pre-COVID-19 offered more live options, the company is pleased with the outcome.

“This ability to collaborate with them so uniquely in this virtual and online wayseems like a perfect fit,” Dave Boyer, Neurocrine's chief corporate affairs officer, said.

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In addition to the music, Neurocrine has spearheaded the hashtag #MonumentalMoments as a way for people to share how they are taking care of their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Running primarily on Twitter and Instagram, posts include ideas such as taking baths, playing with dogs and calling friends.

As part of its support, Neurocrine will donate to various mental health organizations including the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, the International Bipolar Foundation, Mental Health America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Council for Behavioral Health, the National Organization for Tardive Dyskinesia and the Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America.

Neurocrine's first approved drug, Ingrezza, treats tardive dyskinesia, a movement disorder caused by prolonged use of antipsychotics. It competes with Teva’s Austedo in the space.

Neurocrine also recently inked a deal with Takeda for the exclusive license to seven assets from Takeda’s early- to midstage psychiatry pipeline, including clinical-stage programs in schizophrenia, treatment-resistant depression and anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure.

“We don't just aspire to develop drugs for patients with mental health conditions—we want to earn the trust and the privilege of being a trusted partner in the mental health community, every single day. And I think that that aligns a lot with the ‘why’ behind Monumental Moments,” Boyer said.

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While this is the first time Neurocrine has used music in an awareness campaign, it’s not the first time it's engaged with the arts. Last year, it teamed with artists Ted Meyer and Armando Nunez to create outdoor art installations in San Diego during Psych Congress 2019 to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness.

In the second quarter of 2019, Ingrezza generated sales of $181 million. However, with COVID-19 now affecting doctor visits, drugs for non-life-threatening conditions such as tardive dyskinesia are not faring as well as they did last year. Prior to the pandemic, industry watchers estimated that Ingrezza could generate $1.1 billion in 2020, but analysts have since dialed back their expectations.