Cambridge BioMarketing tells rare-disease stories with new podcast series

"Rare" moms Patty Weltin (left) and Janis Creedon (right) talk to Andra Stratton (center) about their families' journey with rare diseases. (Cambridge BioMarketing)

Another Rare Disease Day, another rare-disease marketing campaign from Cambridge BioMarketing. This time, the specialty ad agency built on previous years with a new podcast series that reinforces the “Rare in Common” documentary film it created in 2016.

The podcast program launched with three different stories that follow up with families featured in the Emmy-nominated film. The series is hosted by Andra Stratton, a rare-disease patient and advocate suffering from metabolic condition familial partial lipodystrophy. The inaugural podcasts feature three rare-disease moms—Patty Weltin, Janis Creedon, and Jenn McNary—talking about their children, who were all in the original movie, and giving updates about their conditions.

Stratton opens each podcast with a common thought: “Rare diseases are defined as having an extremely low prevalence, yet an estimated 30 million Americans have one. … Listen as we uncover some of the inspiring stories of lives touched by rare disease, and see how in the end we all have ‘rare’ in common.”

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Cambridge plans to add to the podcast every month with more families, as well as insights from the broader community of rare-disease stakeholders including doctors, researchers and even pharma industry executives, said Annemarie Crivelli, director of digital at Cambridge BioMarketing.

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“We had succeeded in raising awareness about the challenges parents and caregivers face, but we wanted to extend the stories and tell them in a different medium,” she said. “Whether you’re deeply immersed in the rare community or learning about it for first time, those human condition stories are really important for all of us to hear.”

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Rare-disease drug treatments are becoming more common. In 2017, 46 novel drugs were approved by the FDA to treat a swath of little-known diseases. That was double the number approved in 2016 and the highest number of approvals since 1996. Sales of orphan drugs have also increased to more than $115 million annually, almost double the total from 2008, and industry watchers predict the trend will continue through 2022, when sales are expected to top $200 billion as biopharma companies increasingly focus on drugs to treat a variety of rare diseases.