Novartis touts survival edge in Kisqali's TV debut

Novartis has shown in two trials that Kisqali can extend certain patients' lives. And it wants them to know about it.

Novartis has launched its first TV spot for the breast cancer drug, a member of the CDK 4/6 class, in a stepped-up effort to raise awareness. The new commercial comes on the heels of two studies that showed Kisqali, in combination with another drug, helped both post-menopausal and pre-menopausal women live longer.

The TV ad refers to those studies twice, noting that Kisqali is “the only treatment in its class proven to help women live longer in two clinical trials.”

The Swiss drugmaker is hoping that highlighting the trial data, published last year, can help it narrow the gap with Pfizer’s Ibrance, the category leader, as well as Eli Lilly’s Verzenio, the group's No. 2. Ibrance had a two-year head start on the market after an approval in 2015 to treat HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer, with Kisqali and Verzenio following in 2017.

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Kisqali has done digital and print marketing since its launch, but TV is new for the brand. Both Pfizer and Lilly have been running TV ads for several years—Ibrance since May 2017 and Verzenio since April 2018.

“The other two companies in this class have been doing TV for a while. We didn’t because we didn’t feel, before the overall survival data readouts, that there was something new and different that we had to share and educate patients,” Ameet Mallik, head of U.S. oncology at Novartis, said. “The reason we added TV now is because we thought it was significant information for patients to know. And we thought it was important that we provided that information broadly across all media types.”

The TV ad, which opens with "We are the thrivers," shows active and engaged women with MBC and was built on patient insights about the desire to live fully and be hopeful.

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“In the ad, it says ‘We want science, not sorries.’ Patients want to be empowered with the best medicine. They don’t want just pity and sympathy,” Mallik said.

Novartis’ Kisqali commercial adds to its on-air media, including an already-running campaign for another MBC treatment, Piqray. That DTC effort began in October after a May FDA approval, with a focus on informing women that there is a PIK3CA mutation and encouraging them to get tested for it.

The ads target different patients with distinct messages, Mallik said, and while not all viewers will understand the differences in the science behind the drugs, they do understand the overall message: that there are available treatments for MBC that offer a chance to live longer.