Novartis, following fellow cancer drug makers, turns to TV advertising with new Piqray campaign

Novartis' first ad campaign for metastatic breast cancer treatment Piqray uses a play on the "Piq" part of the drug name. (Novartis)

Novartis is joining a group of drugmakers already advertising cancer treatments on TV with the launch of its Piqray campaign. 

The first work for metastatic breast cancer (MBC) therapy Piqray includes a national TV ad along with digital, print, social media and in-office materials. The TV commercial uses the first part of the drug name, “Piq,” as a homonym for “pick.” Female actors speaking in the commercial talk about how they chose to “Piq” hope, clarity and knowledge in their treatment choice for MBC.

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“We know through research and conversations with patients that a metastatic diagnosis brings a lot of uncertainty and a state of chaos that can be isolating. The Piqray campaign reflects the voices, experiences and needs of patients living with this type of breast cancer with a PIK3CA mutation,” a Novartis spokesperson said in an email statement.

Those mutations account for 40% of all HR+/HER2- breast cancers and generally come with a poor prognosis. Novartis said the campaign is meant to give people hope by empowering them to be active in treatment decision and in learning about the treatment “that specifically addresses the effects of a mutation.”

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Piqray is just the latest cancer drug to be advertised on national TV. The trend began in fall 2015 with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s inaugural TV ad for Opdivo, followed by competitor Merck & Co. with its rival Keytruda. Next came Pfizer's breast cancer fighter Ibrance, Eli Lilly's Ibrance rival Verzenio and now Piqray. All told, that’s about $850 million spent on national TV ads for cancer drugs over the past four years, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker