Novartis has pulled questionable efficacy claims in a direct-to-consumer ad campaign for its breast cancer drug Kisqali after the National Advertising Division (NAD) ruled they didn’t stack up, though similar claims made to healthcare professionals can stay.
The NAD decision comes after Novartis irked rival Eli Lilly over claims about how well its breast cancer drug Kisqali works.
Lilly, which markets rival CDK4/6 inhibitor breast cancer drug Verzenio, took umbrage with the claim that Kisqali was the: “Only drug in class with consistently proven survival benefit in HR+/HER2- metastatic breast cancer … across three Phase III trials” and complained to the NAD, which regulates drug ads.
The NAD said the wording of this made it a “comparative” statement in that it appeared as if it was comparing its drug to other CDK4/6 inhibitors in this space, such as Verzenio. The NAD said that as a result, the ad suggests Kisqali is “more effective and provides superior survival benefits to its rivals.”
But the data Novartis has published on its drug simply do not back this up, the NAD said in a release, and consumers are not medically trained and thus cannot understand the nuance in the original statement Novartis makes.
Therefore, when it comes to DTC ads, the NAD said Novartis has to pull “Only drug in class with consistently proven survival benefit in HR+/HER2- metastatic breast cancer across three Phase III trials,” from its DTC campaign.
While Novartis said it “respectfully disagrees” with NAD’s findings, it said it will comply and “plans to discontinue the claim in consumer-facing advertising.”
The case is a little unusual, however. The NAD said Novartis can make similar claims directed to healthcare professionals because, unlike consumers, HCPs are medically trained and better prepared to understand this was not seeking a direct comparison based on available data.
The NAD said in its ruling that is “has long recognized that health care providers and specialists are a sophisticated audience and are better equipped to decipher the advertised results of clinical data than the general consumer.”
The crux here was that Novartis had made “a reasonable basis for the HCP-directed claim” about its drug, and the NAD said it did not need to pull these claims when it comes to a HCP audience.