Biohaven takes the unusual step of plugging not a drug but an experimental trial with a flashy marketing video

Biohaven is known for packing a big marketing punch with a small budget and the pharma is at it again, advertising not a drug but, in an unusual move, a clinical trial for an experimental med.

Biohaven is running a 30-second video on YouTube aimed at promoting the trial it’s running for an investigational obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) study and taps into a deeply emotional vein.

Called "OCD Clinical Trial – Greater Good," the video, which claims to use “real individuals with OCD,” sees a number of typically younger adults talk about the fact that there hasn’t been an FDA-approved drug directly for OCD in nearly 30 years and that the OCD community is “still suffering in silence.”

But, the video says, there “are opportunities to team up with science” to help and then goes into the “greater good” form of the video, which talks not directly about Biohaven’s experimental treatment for OCD but more generally about how trials and research can help find new drugs for OCD.

The end of the video sees a link to, the accompanying website for Biohaven’s OCD trial (and is branded with the Biohaven insignia) that allows you to potentially sign up for its trial, as well as a telephone number to ring through to “see if you qualify” for a “potentially new treatment for OCD.”

This feels like a traditional awareness campaign for a new medicine in that Biohaven does not (and can’t under marketing rules in the U.S. as its drug is not approved) talk directly about the therapy, but can talk about its trial.

Most clinical trials are not advertised in this way, which feels much like a drug TV ad spot, but rather are made known through clinical channels or typically bland trial websites, where patients have to look for themselves.

This could be an interesting gambit for trials, which historically have suffered from low rates of recruitment and retention but are the lifeblood of life sciences.

Biohaven is most well known for its migraine treatment and prevention drug Nurtec, which garnered the attention of Big Pharma Pfizer that saw the pharma snap up its migraine assets in an $11.6 billion deal.

Biohaven has been competing in the migraine space against some serious competition in the form of Eli Lilly and Amgen, but, despite being a much smaller company, has hit hard in a massively competitive marketing space, using deals with NASCAR and a spokesperson pact with Khloe Kardashian to help gain an edge against its rivals.

Outside of Nurtec, Biohaven’s late-stage pipeline is centered on troriluzole, a drug that has been in development for several neurological conditions and is a prodrug of riluzole, which as Rilutek is approved for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

But it’s had a rocky path, and, back in 2020, the drug flopped a phase 2/3 trial in OCD after failing to beat out a dummy pill. Biohaven pushed on regardless of this failure, and it is this very drug trial that the company is recruiting for in the video.