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Disease Education- Neurocrine Biosciences

There are a number of drug makers that do disease education ads. Those companies have a drug that treats the disease or have one about to be approved. Disease education ads make financial sense when a drug company has the only drug to treat the disease or are the dominant competitor. Most disease education ads are followed with a branded campaign when competition emerges or when the addition of a branded campaign can help increase patient requests.

Neurocrine Biosciences is a a San Diego based company that currently gets 97% of its revenue from one product called Ingrezza, a pill that helps reduce uncontrolled eye, mouth, and body movements in people taking medications for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Tardive Dyskinesia (TD) is the name of this disease. Ingrezza was approved in 2017.

Neurocrine decided in early 2019 to do a disease education campaign on television and digitally. The current campaign rotates three executions. The 60-second spots do a very good job introducing the disease with an actor stating the problem and an animation that explains where on the body the symptoms might occur. The campaign is called “Talk about TD.” The campaign has the difficult job of educating patients, families, and caregivers to understand Tardive Dyskinesia. I never heard of it until I saw the campaign.

TD is a disease that affects about 500,000 people. About 58% of patients taking anti-psychotic drugs were unaware those treatments can cause TD. Thus, the need for patient education. Ingrezza is a premium priced drug at about $300 a pill retail. The dose is once a day so the revenue potential for Neurocrine is up to around $9,000 a month per patient. Of course, they get less from payers who negotiate the formulary position. Neurocrine reports revenue of about $5,700 per month per patient.

The educational challenge here is threefold. First is to identify the symptoms of TD which can affect any part of the body, and a second is to get patients to understand that these movement symptoms are something you can treat. Third is to explain how to get more information on treatments. Each of these challenges is dealt with well in the campaign. The ads are visually interesting in how the scenes shift from actor to animation of the symptoms.

Disease education on heart disease, diabetes, or cancer is common place. The TD campaign spending is relatively high for a small company. MediaRadar reports the television spending at around $19 million since the launch. An additional $2 million was spent on digital. Based on reported sales, Ingrezza has done very well. In 2019, it did about $750 million. In 2020, it looks like the drug could top $1 billion. The ad campaign seems to generate a very good ROI given the growth in 2019 and anticipated growth in 2020.

The trend towards doing DTC for limited size categories continues with Ingrezza. In the past, categories of this size would have used highly targeted patient marketing programs. What makes DTC enticing is the revenue per patient, as a $21 million disease education investment would require only a few hundred new patients to be successful. Without having any inside Ingrezza data, I think this campaign exceeded that break-even level.

Bob Ehrlich, Chairman
DTC Perspectives, Inc.

Bob Ehrlich
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer at DTC Perspectives
Bob Ehrlich has over 20 years marketing experience in pharmaceutical and consumer products. Bob is the CEO of DTC Perspectives, Inc., a DTC services company founded in 2000. DTC Perspectives, Inc. developed the DTC National Conference, the largest DTC conference in the industry. DTC Perspectives, Inc. also publishes DTC Perspectives, a quarterly journal dedicated to DTC issues and practices. In addition DTC Perspectives, Inc. does DTC consulting for established and emerging companies, and provides DTC marketing plans for pharmaceutical companies.
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