Or can they? AbbVie puts endometriosis options on display in first Orilissa ad

AbbVie's Orilissa gets a national TV ad push starting this month with ads that encourage women with endometriosis pain to talk to a gynecologist. (AbbVie)

AbbVie’s first campaign for Orilissa is a play on the brand name for the endometriosis pain drug. “Or I Can” is a recurring line in two debut TV ads featuring women talking about their options for dealing with endometriosis pain, such as to ignore it or “suck it up.” The other alternative they consider? “Or I can … talk to my gynecologist.”

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The multimedia campaign, launched in early January, is directed at women who have either been diagnosed with endometriosis or suffer from the symptoms. An AbbVie spokeswoman said the company has been focused on educating healthcare providers since Orilissa's July 2018 approval, and it will continue those efforts alongside the new DTC work.

“The Or I Can campaign is grounded in research with hundreds of women with endometriosis who shared how the chronic and painful disease impacts their everyday lives,” an AbbVie spokesperson said via email. “We found endometriosis places a significant burden on women—personally, professionally and emotionally. Women with endometriosis can feel isolated and misunderstood, and may believe they need to 'suck it up' and push through their endometriosis-associated symptoms.”

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AbbVie primed the new branded TV work with a yearlong endometriosis disease awareness campaign comprising two national commercials. The “Speak Endo” ads, which featured a young woman having difficulty being honest in speaking to her doctor about her endometriosis pain, began in January 2018 and ran through the end of that year. AbbVie spent $63 million in national TV placements on the two spots, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv. In 2017, the pharma teamed up for an online endometriosis awareness effort with “Dancing with the Stars” pro dancer and actress Julianne Hough.

AbbVie is working to secure a second indication for Orilissa, and toward that end, it recently announced a double phase 3 win showing the drug could reduce heavy menstrual bleeding related to uterine fibroids. It is expected to file with the FDA for that indication midyear.

Analysts estimated that Orilissa will reach sales of more than $2 billion by 2025 but break the $1 billion blockbuster barrier far sooner. AbbVie may ultimately face competition in uterine fibroids from Allergan’s Esmya, although that drug was recently rejected by the FDA.