Novartis breaks out in song with MS campaign featuring David Osmond

Still shot from David Osmond's "I Can Do This" video

Novartis ($NVS) has added a bit of pop to its already extensive Gilenya marketing. Not content with a Twitter ($TWTR) feed, a YouTube channel, a self-management smartphone app, and a gaggle of awareness pushes, the Swiss drugmaker is now in the music business.

David Osmond--yes, he's one of those Osmonds--wrote and recorded an inspirational single, "I Can Do This," inspired by his own struggles to manage multiple sclerosis. Already teamed up with Novartis on MS awareness, Osmond licensed the song to the company, and it's set to be available for free download on a new campaign website.

In the meantime, the song is posted on YouTube, and it's already popping up in online conversations. One patient posted a question on the U.K. site last week: What song describes your MS? "Hurt" by Johnny Cash, "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" ... and "I Can Do This."

"[L]istening to this song, I cried for the first time since I got out of the hospital," wrote a young woman newly diagnosed with the disease. "I cried for knowing that in spite of MS ... I CAN DO THIS!!! It is my life and I own it! MS is gonna have to put up with me."

The sentiment is similar to Osmond's own. "It took a while to come to grips with it," he admits to The Wall Street Journal; he was diagnosed in 2006 at the age of 26. As told to the National MS Society's MSConnection newsletter, his story is touching: He suddenly found himself in a wheelchair, unable to play the guitar. After some treatment and hard work, he could walk with a cane, but then ended up back in the wheelchair. Finally, after a double dose of steroids, he was able to walk at his wedding.

Soon enough, he was exhibiting that trademark Osmond positive attitude. In the newsletter profile, he says "MS is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me because it has given me a new perspective on life. I feel very fortunate to be able to share my story."

Osmond is taking Gilenya, the first oral treatment approved for MS. In fact, he's been on the pill since it was approved in 2010. That's one reason Novartis approached him about an awareness campaign. But he's not required to talk up Gilenya as part of his arrangement with the drugmaker, The Wall Street Journal says. He does offer some tips about living well with MS, such as exercising, following a good diet, and finding ways to keep a positive attitude.

- see the WSJ blog post
- get the MSConnection profile
- view the YouTube video

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