Otsuka 'Big Kidney' campaign targets HCPs in bid to shift diagnostic standards

Changing physicians’ behavior is a tall order. So Otsuka is using a giant kidney to get their attention.

The “Big Kidney, Big Problem” awareness campaign targets doctors who treat people living with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). Otsuka’s message? Take a more proactive approach to tracking disease progression.

The campaign makes the case that monitoring kidney function through typical blood tests for estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is not enough. Measuring kidney size—through ultrasound, MRI or CT scans—is a better indicator of disease progression.

“It’s underutilized, but it’s a very good marker for which patients are at risk for rapidly progressing disease,” said Louis Allesandrine, vice president and business unit head for nephrology and medical devices, adding the campaign’s “call to action is to take an image and understand how big a kidney is.”

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ADPKD is a rare genetic disease that causes renal cysts to grow in the kidneys over time. Lifetime progression varies by individual,  and cysts can multiple rapidly and go undetected by eFGR tests. That’s because healthy nephrons in the kidney tend to overcompensate for damaged ones in early stages of the disease, causing eFGR to appear normal.

Otsuka’s Big Kidney campaign website includes detailed information and resources—such as a Mayo Clinic imaging classification chart for ADPKD—for physicians, which include the primary target: specialty group nephrologists, but also primary care doctors, for instance, who may treat families with multiple members with the genetic condition.

“It’s a rare disease, and many physicians will have only one or two patients. If you can imagine on any given day all the different patients they’re seeing, it’s tough for some HCP to stay up on what are the most relevant things to do with testing,” Allesandrine said.

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Along with the website and plans for virtual booths at future medical conferences, Otsuka will use social media including YouTube and Twitter to reach doctors.

While the campaign is unbranded, Otsuka’s Jynarque is approved to treat rapidly progressing autosomal ADPKD. The V2-receptor antagonist was approved by the FDA in 2018, and Otsuka’s year-end 2020 financial report notes that “in the U.S., the number of prescriptions for ADPKD has increased smoothly as efforts to raise awareness of the disease” spurred both disease and product awareness.

Jynarque and Jinarc, as it is known outside the U.S., notched 2020 sales of ¥79,989 million ($750 million), an increase of 39.6% over 2019 sales.