Character: Xifaxan Gut Guy
Company: Salix Pharmaceuticals, wholly-owned subsidiary of Valeant
The newest animated character in pharma is a giant bundle of pink intestines called the Gut Guy for the IBS-D drug Xifaxan. As expected with an aggressive TV ad run--it has aired almost 5,000 times since its launch in October, according to iSpot.tv data--the Gut Guy is generating lots of chatter, both positive and negative.
While few have claimed love for some of the other "gross" characters like the toe fungus digger or the mucus monster, there are actual fans of the pink bubbly bundle. Twitter comments range from the more expected "my new favorite terrible mascot" to much more positive, like "I really want a Xifaxan doll. They are super cute" and "An intestinal tract has no business being this cuddly." (In fact, more than a few mention wanting a Gut Guy doll.)
Xifaxan was approved for treatment of IBS-D, a new indication for the drug, by the FDA in May, just a few months after Salix agreed to be bought by Valeant ($VRX). It's a drug Valeant has newly high hopes for, possibly explaining the heavy ad push. In July, Valeant CEO J. Michael Pearson told investors that part of Xifaxan's success would come from the new indication in IBS-D, which had already resulted in "immediate growth and script uptake." He also acknowledged Salix's specialized sales reps, noting that "customer-facing roles have played and will play a huge role" in the company's success. -- Beth Snyder Bulik
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