Sanofi seeks the next Teenage Idol in meningitis vaccine campaign

Only about 30% of teens receive a second meningitis shot at age 16 as recommended by the CDC, and for vaccine maker Sanofi Pasteur, that's a problem. But the French drugmaker is hoping it can change that, and to do so, it's teaming up with a teen idol.

As part of its ongoing Voices of Meningitis Campaign, Sanofi ($SNY) recently brought aboard actress and singer Lucy Hale, the star of ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars." Together, they launched "Boost the Volume," which challenged high school singing groups in the Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York and Portland, OR, areas to perform "an inspirational medley of songs that speaks to the importance of living your best life"--which includes protecting against meningococcal meningitis.

Now, the four finalists--one from each city--are gearing up to perform their medleys with Hale at a concert for their classmates, parents and teachers, where a meningitis survivor will also talk about the disease's consequences and encourage vaccination.

After a rough 2014 on the meningitis vaccines sales front, Sanofi is hoping Hale can inspire her teenage followers to pick up that booster dose, which the CDC recommends after an initial vaccination. Only about 78% of adolescents now receive the booster.

Last year, sales for the company's meningitis and pneumonia vaccines segment--which includes quadrivalent conjugate Menactra--sunk by 8.3% to €455 million, thanks to big drops in Western Europe and emerging markets. To offset those declines, U.S. sales are going to need to grow by more than the 2.3% in constant exchange rates they eked out last year.

Hale is not the first celebrity Sanofi has signed on lately to boost vaccination rates. Last year, the company launched a tour with 12-time Olympic medalist swimmer and mother Dara Torres to "pump up the volume on the messaging on that second dose," Sanofi Pasteur's public relations director, Sean Clements, told FiercePharmaMarketing.

"We're lagging behind in trying to get that second dose to the adolescents who need it," he said.

- read Sanofi's release

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