Novartis goes '80s with Cyndi Lauper-led psoriasis campaign

Cyndi Lauper

How can girls with psoriasis have fun? '80s icon Cyndi Lauper says she knows--and she has teamed up with Novartis ($NVS) to talk about it.

Lauper has signed on for an awareness push with the National Psoriasis Foundation and the Swiss pharma giant--which is working hard to ramp up its new psoriasis med Cosentyx as other next-gen rivals near the market. The "I'm PsO Ready" campaign aims to highlight the "physical, emotional and social challenges" of the skin disease and celebrate "everyday successes" for patients, the foundation said in a statement.

The "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" singer, who has been battling psoriasis since 2010, first tried using home remedies to help the condition, she said in the statement, and she told People magazine that she "felt like a mad scientist mixing this and that."

She also covered up, "wearing higher-necked clothes, turtlenecks and long sleeves," she told People. "I looked like a nun. It's not an attractive look. I like to wear tight clothes, so what am I gonna do, wear a potato sack? No."

Lauper isn't hiding anymore. "I'm PsO ready" is part of a larger disease awareness initiative--"More to PsOriasis"--whose website will feature Lauper's "personal journey" with the disease through videos and inspirational quotes.

"I want people living with the condition to understand that we don't have to be embarrassed, we don't have to cover up and we don't have to settle for life the way it is," she said.

Novartis, which launched Cosentyx earlier this year, is trying to build up market share before a slew of rivals hit the scene. Companies including AstraZeneca ($AZN), Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) have contenders coming up through their pipelines.

Novartis Pharma Chief David Epstein

In addition to its awareness efforts, the company is working to snag a pair of label expansions for the drug in psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. If it can win a trio of indications, it'll have an open shot at a combined market that checks in at $10 billion--and one that's growing at about 22%, Novartis pharma chief David Epstein has said.

Meanwhile, Novartis is not the only psoriasis drugmaker beefing up its marketing efforts. On June 14, Celgene ($CELG) rolled out a TV spot, "Show More of You", to promote its med Otezla, spending more than $5.6 million through the first two weeks ending July 1.

- read the release
- read more in People

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