One of the benefits of DTC advertising is making it easier to talk to the doctor about conditions patients may find embarrassing. Viagra was a pioneer in talking about erectile dysfunction (ED). This created an opportunity for many men to deal with what was often a condition not treated. Since ED could be indicative of blood vessel blockage, what was embarrassing could also create a discussion that saved a life.
Some other examples of conditions patients are often reluctant to discuss are toenail fungus, urinary incontinence, low testosterone, and depression. DTC has been very helpful in making those conditions easier for patients to raise with their health care provider.
One of the potentially hard to discuss diseases is treated by a drug from Endo Pharmaceuticals. The disease is called Peyronie’s Disease (PD) which is a bend in the penis when erect. Endo, which makes a treatment called Xiaflex, has been running a non-branded campaign since 2016 starting with print and digital. The firstTV campaign started in 2018 and was designed to introduce the idea of abnormal curvature. Using the “curved below the belt” line was a way to discuss the penis and erections without mentioning those terms in the ad. The ad told men that there are thousands like them who have abnormal curvature.
In the second 2018 campaign Endo got more bold. They explicitly mentioned erection curvature and from then on, added more facts that directly addressed the possible causes. The first-year campaign used fairly standard visuals of men lookingconcerned while the voice over addressed the condition. In recent executions, Endo became creative visually with representations of a bent penis. Using fruit and vegetables we see cucumbers, carrots, and bananas standing in for the penis.
Endo has a very good explanation about the causes of PD on its website. Xiaflex as a treatment option is explained as an injectable that can break up the plaque which forms from an injury to the area. In fact, we learn on the site there are millions of men who have this disease. The degree of curvature is used as an assessment tool on the site to determine whether treatment is needed.
Interestingly, we also see Xiaflex used for another common condition called Dupuytren’s Contracture which is a rigid bend in the finger joint. Endo has a separate campaign on air for this condition. This is clearly something patients may be less reluctant to discuss with physicians.
Critics of DTC Ads should recognize that educating patients about hard to discuss conditions is one of the unheralded benefits of DTC. I am sure discussing a bent penis is not something men would generally find easy. Having an educational campaign that says it is common and treatable makes many men more likely to discuss it with physicians. The fact that Endo has been running a PD TV campaign for over two years indicates they are seeing increased PD related urology visits. It is not easy to do a DTC campaign on sexually related conditions and Endo has done that well across multimedia platforms.
DTC Perspectives, Inc.
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