In AstraZeneca's latest campaign, wild eosinophils called Phils personify the acting up often seen in uncontrolled asthma

As­traZeneca de­buts an­noy­ing pur­ple ‘Phil’ crea­tures, per­son­i­fied asth­ma eosinophils ‘be­hav­ing bad­ly’

There are some odd-look­ing pur­ple crea­tures lurk­ing around the halls of As­traZeneca late­ly. The “Phil” char­ac­ter cutouts are pur­ple, per­son­i­fied eosinophils with big bug­gy eyes and wide mouths, and they’re a part of AZ’s newest aware­ness ef­fort to help peo­ple un­der­stand eosinophilic asth­ma.

The “Asth­ma Be­hav­ing Bad­ly” char­ac­ters aren’t on­ly on the walls at AZ to show the new cam­paign to em­ploy­ees, how­ev­er. The “Phils” are al­so show­ing up on­line on the cam­paign web­site, and in dig­i­tal and so­cial ads and posts on Face­book and In­sta­gram.

And the “Phils” are re­al pills. Shown chew­ing up a pic­nic table­cloth, kick­ing over sal­ad and squirt­ing mus­tard and ketchup, and gen­er­al­ly ru­in­ing a woman’s pic­nic on the site, the point is to high­light the an­noy­ance and dif­fi­cul­ty of un­con­trolled asth­ma in a light­heart­ed way.

Matt Gray

“That dis­rup­tive na­ture of asth­ma — we hear pa­tients say ‘my asth­ma is act­ing up’ all the time — so that idea of these eosinophils do­ing that, be­ing dis­rup­tive, we want­ed to be fun, but not nec­es­sar­i­ly fun­ny,” said Matt Gray, AZ’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing, Fasen­ra.

Al­so do­ing his part to pro­mote the cam­paign is As­traZeneca’s spokesper­son on eosinophilic asth­ma, ac­tor Tony Hale. In a hu­mor­ous so­cial video, he talks to a dou­ble of him­self talk­ing as if he were eosinophilic asth­ma in a heart-to-heart chat.

“If you didn’t be­have so bad­ly, I wouldn’t have to re­ly on him (points to an in­haler on the ta­ble) so much,” he says to his asth­ma per­sona. The “Phils” don’t fea­ture in­to Hale’s spon­sored post, but he does point to the web­site, and a fi­nal screen shows one of them un­der the brought-to-you-by “asth­ma be­hav­ing bad­ly” ti­tle.

Even as the words “eosinophilic” and “eosinophils” are more eas­i­ly rec­og­nized thanks to AZ’s work, but al­so com­peti­tors such as Sanofi and Re­gen­eron’s Dupix­ent and GSK’s Nu­cala al­so ap­proved for eosinophilic con­di­tions, there is still plen­ty of un­met need, Gray said.

Four out of five peo­ple with se­vere, un­con­trolled asth­ma have eosinophilic asth­ma, he said. Eosinophilic asth­ma is an un­com­mon type of asth­ma, af­fect­ing about 1.5 mil­lion of the es­ti­mat­ed 25 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing with asth­ma in the US. It is in­di­cat­ed by a blood count of more than 150 eosinophils per mi­cro­liter.

One of the rea­sons AZ chose pur­ple for the “Phils” col­or is when eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, are stained against blood cells in lab tests, they show up as pur­ple.

“This is about bring­ing to light some­thing that can be un­der­ly­ing that shouldn’t be ter­ri­fy­ing be­cause there is some­thing you can do about it. We want peo­ple to un­der­stand that their lack of con­trol could be be­cause they have a dif­fer­ent kind of asth­ma,” Gray said.

As­traZeneca plans to run the cam­paign with new cre­ative and so­cial me­dia rolling out over the next sev­er­al months and then will re-eval­u­ate its ef­fec­tive­ness.

Vac­cine doc­u­ments, young lead­ers and mar­ket tur­moil: End­points' 10 biggest sto­ries of 2022

It’s been a volatile year in the world of biopharma. Market declines reset M&A valuations, and may be beginning to tempt bigger buyers back into dealmaking. Russia’s war in Ukraine disrupted drug sales and clinical trials. A new generation of young biotech leaders emerged in the Endpoints 20(+1) Under 40. And as capital runs dry in a tough environment for raising new funds, companies big and small are taking a look at their headcounts and operations for ways to make it through lean times.

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Tom Riga, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals CEO

Spec­trum im­plodes af­ter a harsh pub­lic slap­down and now a CRL from Richard Paz­dur

The FDA has gone out of its way several times to flatten any expectations for Spectrum’s lung cancer drug poziotinib, including slamming the regulatory door in the biotech’s face four years ago when the their executive crew came calling for a breakthrough drug designation and encouragement from the oncology wing of the FDA.

That stinging early rebuke pointed straight down the path to a corrosive in-house agency review of Spectrum’s attempt to land an accelerated approval for the oral EGFR TKI and a public whipping that included a classic takedown by none other than Richard Pazdur, who slammed the company for “poor drug development” that led to confusion over the dose needed for a slice of NSCLC patients harboring HER2 exon 20 insertion mutations.

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (John Thys/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Pfiz­er CEO un­der fire from UK watch­dog over vac­cine com­ments — re­port

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told the BBC last December that he had “no doubt in my mind that the benefits, completely, are in favor” of vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds for Covid-19. Almost a year later, those comments have reportedly landed him in trouble with a UK pharma watchdog.

Children’s advocacy group UsForThem filed a complaint with the UK’s Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) last year accusing Bourla of making “disgracefully misleading” statements during the BBC interview, including one that “Covid in schools is thriving.” At the time, UK regulators had not yet cleared the vaccine for the 5 to 11 age group, though the vaccine did have a positive opinion from the EMA’s human medicines committee.

Merck targets vaccine-hesitant parents in its latest 'Why Vaccines' campaign. (Image: Shutterstock)

Mer­ck­'s lat­est 'Why Vac­ci­nes' cam­paign seeks to bet­ter in­form vac­cine-hes­i­tant moms

From Hollywood couple endorsements to targeted equity efforts, Merck has been pushing the value of vaccinations, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic disruption. Now the pharma is turning to a new target — vaccine-hesitant parents, and moms in particular.

Merck’s “Why Vaccines” latest social media and digital campaign spotlights real-life new moms who have questions about vaccinating their children.

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Big Phar­ma's Twit­ter ex­o­dus; Mer­ck wa­gers $1.35B on buy­out; $3.5M gene ther­a­py; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

As you start planning for #JPM23, we hope you will consider joining Endpoints News for our live and virtual events. For those who are celebrating Thanksgiving, we hope you are enjoying the long weekend with loved ones. And if you’re not — we’ll see you next week!

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Sanofi's new headquarters, La Maison Sanofi, in Paris (Credit: Luc Boegly)

Sanofi wel­comes 500 staffers to new Paris HQ af­ter €30M ren­o­va­tion

When Paul Hudson took the helm at Sanofi back in 2019, he promised to reinvent the pharma giant — including its Paris headquarters. This week, the company set up shop in new “state-of-the-art” digs.

La Maison Sanofi, as the new HQ is called, is officially open for business, Hudson announced on Monday. The 9,000-square-meter (just under 97,000-square-foot) space accommodates 500 employees across the company’s government and global support functions teams, including finance, HR, legal and corporate affairs — and it was built with environmental sustainability and hybrid work in mind.

Sta­da to place $50M+ in­vest­ment in a new fa­cil­i­ty in Ro­ma­nia

While Romania may conjure up images of vast mountain ranges and tales of medieval kings, one generic manufacturer has broken ground on a new facility there.

German pharma company Stada said Monday that it has placed a €50 million ($51.9 million) investment into a 100,000 square-meter (1.08 million square-foot) site in Turda, Romania, a city in the Southeast of the country. According to a Stada spokesperson in an email to Endpoints News, the company has developed only 281,500 square feet of the site so far.

Rachael Rollins (Charles Krupa/AP Images)

US seeks jail time for co-CEO of New Eng­land com­pound­ing cen­ter af­ter dead­ly 2012 fun­gal out­break

The US attorney for the district of Massachusetts late last week called on the state’s district court to sentence the former co-owner of the now-defunct New England Compounding Center to 18 months of jail time for his role in the center’s quality deviations that led to more than 100 people dead from a fungal meningitis outbreak.

Gregory Conigliaro was convicted of conspiring with more than a dozen others at NECC to deceive the FDA and misrepresent the fact that the center was only dispensing drugs pursuant to patient-specific prescriptions.

FDA tells Catal­ent to fix is­sues at two man­u­fac­tur­ing sites on its own

The CDMO Catalent will have to fix issues at two manufacturing plants in the US and Europe that were subject to inspections by the FDA this summer, giving the company room to correct the issues without facing further regulatory action.

The FDA gave Catalent a “voluntary action indicated” response to two inspections at the contract manufacturer’s site in Bloomington, IN, and Brussels, Belgium. Fixing the issues on its own is a preferable outcome to facing an “official action indicated” response, meaning that an official warning would be sent out or a sit-down with the FDA would be required.

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