In midst of ADHD drug launch, Supernus taps '90s sitcom actress for awareness campaign

Actress Holly Robinson Peete discusses her family's experience with ADHD as part of Supernus' "More to ADHD" awareness campaign. (Supernus Pharmaceuticals)

Television actress Holly Robinson Peete used to clash with her then-teenage daughter Ryan about cleaning her room and leaving other chores undone. She initially chalked it up to typical mother-daughter conflict.

“I didn’t recognize the signs of ADHD in her,” said Peete, whose daughter, now 24, was eventually diagnosed at age 14. “It presents itself a little bit differently sometimes, especially with young ladies.”

The actress and social media influencer, best known for her roles in the late '80s police series “21 Jump Street” and the ‘90s sitcom “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper,” recounted her family’s attention deficit hyperactivity disorder experience during a sponsored interview on a local New York City news station, one of several she's done as part of her partnership with Supernus Pharmaceuticals and its “More To ADHD” campaign.

The unbranded campaign, timed for ADHD awareness month, coincides with the Maryland drugmaker’s launch of its newly approved non-stimulant ADHD med Qelbree, which won an FDA nod in April for children ages six to 17. 

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The campaign includes a website with downloadable resources, such as tips and checklists to guide discussions with teachers and healthcare providers.

The goal? To shatter stigma and educate families about the sometimes overlooked signs of ADHD, and encourage those who think their child might be affected to seek treatment, according to the company. 

As Peete points out, ADHD is more likely to go unnoticed in girls, because the symptoms are often more subtle than they are in boys. For Ryan, it was "spaciness" and an inability to finish tasks. 

“There are 6 million children and adolescents who suffer from ADHD, and not everyone is diagnosed and well-treated,” Supernus CEO Jack Khattar said in an interview. “The good news is it’s really a condition where you have great [treatment] options out there to be able to live with ADHD, adapt to it very well, and be very successful.”

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Khattar said Peete was a natural choice for the campaign’s celebrity partner: she’s been open about her family’s journey with ADHD and has long been a champion of neurodiversity. (Ryan’s twin brother, RJ, has autism.)

Along with doing sponsored interviews, Peete is promoting the campaign on her social media accounts, most recently tweeting about an Oct. 28 appearance on ABC’s "GMA3."

The latest campaign adds to the company's separate awareness effort targeting healthcare professionals, called Team ADHD.

With the first non-stimulant ADHD med to win approval in a decade, Supernus is banking on appealing to parents who are reluctant to give their child a controlled substance. But Qelbree faces stiff competition from Eli Lilly’s Strattera and Shire’s Intuniv, along with a slew of cheaper generics. 

Supernus is also looking to tap into the growing adult ADHD market, eyeing FDA approval of a label expansion that would allow it to market the drug to people over 17. A decision is expected by April 29, 2022.