Roving poison ivy, crawling insects and a real patient star in Dupixent's first ads

Dupixent package
Sanofi and Regeneron debuted their first campaign for first-in-class biologic Dupixent based on original research with severe eczema patients. (Sanofi)

Tiny insects crawling on a woman’s hands and poison ivy vines snaking up around her ankles sound like scenes straight from a horror movie, but they are actually from the first ad campaign for Dupixent, Sanofi and Regeneron’s new treatment for severe eczema.

The insect visual in the new TV ad came from primary patient research in which patients described the persistent itchiness of atopic dermatitis as “feeling like insects” crawling on their skin, said Sanofi and Regeneron spokespeople in a joint email. Other insights derived from that original research show up in the “No Matter What” ad in the form of everyday items and clothing choices patients say they make.

RELATED: Sanofi's Dupixent scores NICE recommendation after price cut

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The woman in the TV work is Jennifer, an actual Dupixent patient and brand ambassador, who shows what it's like to live with uncontrolled moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis. She starts her day with poison ivy winding around her red and inflamed feet, then spies a sweater in a window that grows cactus-like spikes. While washing her hands, she looks down to see small insects crawling all over them.

The ad's tone and music softens as the voiceover relays info about the nonsteroid Dupixent treatment—and as Jennifer’s skin begins to heal.

“We wanted to show what a real patient with uncontrolled moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis deals with, and how Dupixent might help them,” the drugmakers said in their email. “(The) ad aims to educate audiences across the U.S. about the symptoms of uncontrolled moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis and the availability of Dupixent as a therapeutic option after failure on topical prescription therapies.”

The ad campaign began this month and includes TV, digital and print media.

RELATED: Sanofi and Regeneron's Dupixent launch is about to get a cash infusion

Dupixent, the first biologic approved to treat moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, rolled out in March 2017, and since then Sanofi and Regeneron had focused most of their marketing efforts on unbranded awareness work. In the fall, they teamed with HBO series “The Night of” director Peter Moffat, who suffers from atopic dermatitis himself, for a day-in-the-life short film released online, and later in the year, launched an “Eczema Exposed” awareness TV campaign that features a woman who cancels her plans and wears sweaters in summer, dismissing other’s concerns with “it’s just my eczema, it’s fine.”

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