Novartis taps real-life Cosentyx patients to thank healthcare workers, pledge patient support

Novartis is using familiar faces—real patients from its Cosentyx TV commercials—to thank healthcare workers and promise support for patients. It’s a shift away from product-centered TV ads as Novartis adjusts its Cosentyx DTC effort during the COVID-19 crisis to highlight resources for patients, the drugmaker said.

Clips of the Cosentyx patients air along with images of scientists, healthcare workers and interstitials that show information about Novartis’ CosentyxConnect patient support program. The program offers help from a personal support specialist, financial assistance, and tools and resources such as educational videos about injections, medicine travel cases and needle disposal containers.

The narrator refers to the "extraordinary times" we're and in and adds: “If you have any questions at all, call us, email us, visit us online. We’re here to help support you when you need us.” The TV ad began running in late April and has aired most often during late-night talk shows, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker

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“In light of these challenging times, and keeping our patients in mind, we have adjusted our Cosentyx DTC campaign to highlight resources that can help healthcare professionals and patients continue to access their treatments regardless of their current situation," Novartis said in a statement.

While the ad is only running on TV at present, the drugmaker said it is “currently evaluating messaging across all direct-to-consumer campaigns and will consider adjustments accordingly.”

Novartis joins other pharma companies including Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Bayer and AbbVie, which have all launched campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic to direct customers to financial and educational help.

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The FDA first approved Cosentyx in 2015 for plaque psoriasis and added psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis indications the next year. From the beginning, singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper has partnered with the brand, starting off with psoriasis awareness ads and continuing into a paid TV spokesperson role, along with other patients who tell their painful skin condition stories.

The IL-17A inhibitor competes directly with Eli Lilly’s Taltz, but it also competes with newer, next-gen IL-23 inhibitors, including AbbVie’s Skyrizi and Johnson & Johnson’s Tremfya. Cosentyx's 2019 sales hit $3.6 billion, a 28% increase over the previous year.