Pfizer CEO throws weight behind migraine awareness campaign, pushing supportive employer message

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Ph.D., has thrown his weight behind a disease awareness campaign, using his handles on social media platforms to amplify messaging about the importance of migraine-friendly work policies.

Migraine has become a major focus for Pfizer since it paid $11.6 billion to acquire Biohaven Pharma. The buyout gave Pfizer full control of Nurtec ODT, a migraine drug that generated sales of $247 million in the second quarter, and spurred investment in an ad campaign centered on Lady Gaga. Pfizer is putting cash into the promotion of Nurtec ODT to bolster its position against rivals such as AbbVie and Eli Lilly.

Ahead of Migraine Awareness Week, Pfizer is running a campaign about changes employers can make to create workplaces that support staff who suffer from the neurological disease. Bourla discussed the work Pfizer is doing to help its staff in posts on LinkedIn and X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.   

“Migraine is debilitating, often invisible and more prevalent than many realize. In fact, one in seven people worldwide have it, which means we all know someone who lives with this disease,” Bourla wrote. “At Pfizer, we’re not only committed to helping migraine patients around the world, but also to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment for our colleagues with migraine.”

Bourla’s posts linked to a Pfizer article that discusses the personal experience of Nicole Shaffer, senior director for people experience and colleague wellness at the Big Pharma, and the steps the company has taken to support her and other employees who experience migraines. 

“My migraine attacks are not as debilitating as others’, but it sometimes takes me a day or two to finish something normally taking a couple of hours,” Shaffer said in the blog post. “Knowing how migraine affects me, I’m conscious of how it may affect other team members. So, I’m always saying, ‘Take time for yourself, take care of yourself. Make sure you’re OK.’”

The European Migraine & Headache Alliance named Pfizer as a migraine-friendly workplace last month, adding the Big Pharma to a list that includes its rivals AbbVie, Lilly, Lundbeck, Novartis and Teva. Pfizer cited actions, such as offering flexible work schedules and anti-glare screens, that it has taken to support its employees who have migraines. 

Bourla rarely uses his social media handles to promote Pfizer’s disease awareness campaigns but made an exception for its latest migraine push, a competitive therapeutic area that is central to the company’s growth plans.