It's up, up and away for Medikidz comic books as the communications company looks to build out a global brand dedicated to kids' healthcare, backed by pharma partners.
Founded in 2009, Medikidz has grown its stable of books to 4 million titles in 30 different languages across more than 100 conditions that affect children and their families. Now the company is moving into digital with titles, apps, reminders, online communities and other software resources.
What's behind the new push? Medikidz has a bigger goal in mind.
|Medikidz CEO Dr. Kate Hersov|
"We see the potential to be the first global brand for kids' healthcare. Like Sesame Street is for preschool education," said co-founder and CEO Dr. Kate Hersov, who is also a pediatrician. "It's about education, but it's also about helping children live healthy lives."
She said about 90% of its titles are backed by partnerships with pharma companies, which include Sanofi ($SNY), Eisai, Amgen ($AMGN), Novartis ($NVS) and AbbVie ($ABBV) South Africa.
The key is the superheroes. Children and teens are "a fickle audience," Hersov noted, but the comics, humor and graphics create an immediate engagement in language they can understand.
Medikidz was born, as Hersov explained, because she and her founding pediatrician partner were flummoxed by the lack of information for kids about their own diseases or treatments. She recalled a 9-year-old boy with a fracture who needed an x-ray, but because no one explained what was going to happen when he was whisked away from his parents, he was so afraid that he wet his pants.
"I was so frustrated as a healthcare professional with younger patients that I never had anything to give to them to help them understand what they're being told about their condition or treatment. It was all just for the grown-ups," she said. "It's empowering for them to know what's going on inside their bodies, and helps gives them a bit of control back."
|A Medikidz comic on asthma|
She experienced that lack of information herself. Her mother had breast cancer when Hersov was just 10, and her mother later told her that one of the hardest parts of her illness was trying to explain what was happening to Hersov and her three sisters.
Hiliary Johnson, who was Sanofi's Lantus product manager at the time of its Medikidz partnership, wrote then that "partnering with Medikidz allowed us to enhance our education platform for children and really showed how committed we are to patient care and education.
"The relationship was highly collaborative," Johnson continued, adding, "The outcome was a comic book that we were all proud of because we both had the same goal in mind--helping children understand Type One Diabetes."