Idorsia adds Olympic gold medalist and insomnia patient Lindsey Vonn to its celebrity spokesperson roster
After Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn’s first major knee surgery in 2013, she couldn’t sleep. That was the beginning of a cycle of more injuries, added anxiety and stress snowballing into an eventual diagnosis of insomnia.
Now Vonn’s teaming up with Idorsia Pharmaceuticals on its sleep drug Quviviq as its newest celebrity patient ambassador. Vonn appeared in media interviews this week, including on the Today Show and People magazine, talking about her struggles with sleep, along with overall mental health issues.
She’s also appearing in digital and social promotions, and, along with another Quviviq celebrity patient, actor Taye Diggs, will star in upcoming direct-to-consumer TV ads being prepped for the fall.
For Vonn, it was skiing injuries that “really set me down a path of insomnia for the next, how many? Nine years,” she says in a video on the Quviviq website.
“It was difficult because I knew how important sleep was in order to recover from my physical injuries because sleep is not just important for your mind, it’s also really important for your body to recover. When I retired, it made my sleep so much worse,” she says.
Vonn retired in 2019 after a 19-year career in downhill skiing, winning three Olympic medals, a world-record 20 World Cup crystal globes and a women’s record overall of 82 World Cup wins.
“Real authentic stories really connect with patients and we’re all about trying to empower patients to talk to their doctors about insomnia and potential solutions to help improve their condition. Lindsey fits that to a tee,” said Patricia Torr, Idorsia’s president and general manager.
While Vonn and Diggs similarly suffer from insomnia, their conditions had different triggers — in Diggs’ case, by becoming a parent and waking up at night to help take care of his son.
Michael Moye, Idorsia VP and head of marketing said, “Just like those two experienced, there are triggers out there. People think ‘Oh, this will pass — it just has to do with what’s happening in the moment.’ Then literally years later, they’re still suffering from insomnia.”
The Idorsia team believes that hearing Vonn and Diggs’ stories about years of sleeplessness triggered by different causes “will really resonate with a lot of people,” he added.
Idorsia is also running an unbranded multi-year insomnia awareness campaign in digital, social and TV ads featuring actress Jennifer Aniston. The “Seize the Night & Day” effort began in January with TV ads directed by well-known director Taika Waititi. The TV spots show Aniston struggling through sleepless nights and in the newest commercial, groggy mornings, as she appears concurrently with a perkier version of herself who tells her ”Good days start with good nights” and advises talking to her (their?) doctor.
Idorsia estimates 25 million people in the US suffer from insomnia, ranking it as the most prevalent sleep disorder in the country.
The FDA approved Quviviq, a dual orexin receptor antagonist (DORA), in January in two doses — 25 mg and 50 mg — with both showing statistically significant improvements in polysomnography and self-reported total sleep. Quviviq was on par with placebo in safety, notching it ahead of two previously approved DORAs Merck’s Belsomra and Eisai’s Dayvigo which both come with warning labels.
Older sleep aids such as Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata were slapped with FDA black box warnings in 2019 after reports of patients walking and eating in their sleep with sometimes disastrous outcomes including 20 linked deaths from drowning, falls, car crashes and suicide.