Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Ab­b­Vie’s Hu­mi­ra TV turns fo­cus to HS skin con­di­tion; Sanofi amps par­ent­ing pol­i­cy

Af­ter years as the top spend­ing phar­ma TV ad­ver­tis­er, Ab­b­Vie’s Hu­mi­ra brand fi­nal­ly down­shift­ed ear­li­er this year, ced­ing much of its mar­ket­ing bud­get to up-and-com­ing sib­ling meds Skyrizi and Rin­voq. How­ev­er, now Hu­mi­ra is back on TV with ads for an­oth­er con­di­tion — Hidradeni­tis sup­pu­ra­ti­va (HS).

The chron­ic and painful skin con­di­tion re­sults in lumps and ab­scess­es caused by in­flam­ma­tion or in­fec­tion of sweat glands, most of­ten in the armpits or groin. Hu­mi­ra was first ap­proved to treat HS in 2015 and re­mains the on­ly FDA-ap­proved drug for the con­di­tion. Two TV ads both note more than 30,000 peo­ple with HS have been pre­scribed Hu­mi­ra.

While the ads like­ly won’t drop the big dol­lars of Hu­mi­ra, ex­act spend­ing da­ta on the ads was not avail­able through na­tion­al TV ad track­er iS­ That may be be­cause the ads are on­ly run­ning lo­cal­ly or on con­nect­ed TV.

Sanofi dou­bles down for par­ent­ing em­ploy­ees, up­ping its paid leave pol­i­cy for all

Sanofi is es­tab­lish­ing a new 14-week glob­al parental leave pol­i­cy. The 100% salary-paid for 14 weeks ex­tends to all par­ents no mat­ter gen­der or sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion and is open to any em­ploy­ee wel­com­ing a child through child­birth, adop­tion, sur­ro­ga­cy or cus­tody, Sanofi said in its Tues­day an­nounce­ment.

Sanofi’s pre­vi­ous parental leave poli­cies dif­fered around the world, and while they were seen as gen­er­ous — it’s eight weeks paid and eight weeks un­paid pol­i­cy in the US land­ed it on Work­ing Moth­er’s Best 100 list last year — the new 14-week paid pol­i­cy is now uni­form world­wide. Em­ploy­ees in coun­tries which al­ready had longer than 14-week paid poli­cies will con­tin­ue to re­ceive the more gen­er­ous ben­e­fits.

“We are ded­i­cat­ed to a work­place that em­braces di­ver­si­ty and nur­tures an en­vi­ron­ment where all em­ploy­ees feel they be­long and are sup­port­ed,” Clint Wal­lace, Sanofi’s head of hu­man re­sources in North Amer­i­ca, said.

WHO skips two Greek al­pha­bet let­ters to avoid con­fu­sion for lat­est Covid-19 virus vari­ant

Omi­cron is jump­ing in­to glob­al head­lines as the lat­est and po­ten­tial­ly more dan­ger­ous Covid-19 vari­ant, but it al­so jumped over two let­ters be­fore it in the Greek al­pha­bet. The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion de­cid­ed last year to use the Greek al­pha­bet to name Covid-19 vari­ants as not on­ly a sim­ple or­ga­nized sys­tem, but al­so to avoid the con­fu­sion and stig­ma that ca­su­al ge­og­ra­phy tag­ging caused ear­ly in the pan­dem­ic, such as the UK or South African vari­ants. The more com­plex num­ber and let­ter com­bi­na­tion sci­en­tif­ic names are still used along­side the Greek let­ter as­sign­ments.

But now WHO has skipped over the let­ters Nu and Xi in nam­ing the Omi­cron vari­ant.

“‘Nu’ is too eas­i­ly con­found­ed with ‘new,’ and ‘Xi’ was not used be­cause it is a com­mon last name,” a spokesman told The New York Times over the week­end.

Of course, the skip drew al­most as much at­ten­tion as WHO was try­ing to avoid, with con­tro­ver­sial tweets ac­cus­ing WHO of a va­ri­ety of of­fens­es.

How­ev­er, now an­oth­er prob­lem looms. With 15 of the 24 let­ters of the Greek al­pha­bet al­ready used (or skipped over) in the WHO’s cur­rent sys­tem, there’s a re­al pos­si­bil­i­ty the al­pha­bet will run out be­fore the vari­ants do. WHO is al­ready work­ing on a next nam­ing con­ven­tion it told sev­er­al me­dia out­lets, in­clud­ing the po­ten­tial to start us­ing con­stel­la­tion names.

Up next — just in case you’re not up on the Greek al­pha­bet — are Pi, Rho and Sig­ma.

Eli Lil­ly moves me­dia buy­ing and plan­ning ac­count to new agency  

Eli Lil­ly award­ed its mas­sive me­dia ac­count to Pub­li­cis Groupe’s Zenith af­ter an agency re­view that in­clud­ed WPP Group, Dentsu and the in­cum­bent Om­ni­com’s OMD, which had the busi­ness for 20 years. Ad Age es­ti­mates Lil­ly spends more than $860 mil­lion every year on me­dia spend­ing in TV, print, ra­dio and dig­i­tal across its port­fo­lio of brands which in­cludes Trulic­i­ty, Em­gal­i­ty and Verzenio.

Lil­ly is­sued a state­ment about the move that said, in part, that it’s work­ing “to cre­ate re­mark­able ex­pe­ri­ences with­in the con­sumer jour­ney, fu­eled by both hu­man in­sights and da­ta. Lil­ly looks for­ward to work­ing with Zenith, part of Pub­li­cis Groupe, as our new me­dia agency of record. To­geth­er, we will part­ner to de­liv­er these re­mark­able ex­pe­ri­ences to pa­tients and help sup­port the fu­ture growth of the busi­ness.”

Drug pric­ing ad­vo­ca­cy group launch­es lo­cal ad se­ries to thank Con­gress­peo­ple

Six con­gress­peo­ple who vot­ed for the Build Back Bet­ter Act are get­ting thank you notes, in the form of TV ads run in their home states, from ad­vo­ca­cy group Pa­tients for Af­ford­able Drugs Now. In each com­mer­cial, each rep­re­sen­ta­tive is called out and pic­tured with the call to ac­tion “Tell Rep. (name) thank you for vot­ing to low­er drug prices for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans.”

The lat­est spate of lo­cal ads from P4AD­Now comes on the heels of sev­er­al oth­er ef­forts around the Build Back Bet­ter vote. It’s run­ning ads in West Vir­ginia call­ing on Sen. Joe Manchin to sup­port the bill while prais­ing him for past Medicare ne­go­ti­a­tion ef­forts, as well as in Ari­zona ask­ing Sen. Kyrsten Sine­ma to al­so sup­port the drug pric­ing plans in the bill. The ads are set to run through De­cem­ber as the US Sen­ate takes up the bill, which in­cludes pro­vi­sions to al­low Medicare to ne­go­ti­ate some drug prices, cap out-of-pock­et costs and lim­it an­nu­al drug price in­creas­es.

Boston tops list of best glob­al cities for healthtech, ahead of New York and San Fran­cis­co

Boston ranked as the best city for healthtech out of 85 cities — 50 in the US and 35 out­side — in a new eval­u­a­tion from tech con­sult­ing firm Moove It. New York, San Fran­cis­co, Los An­ge­les and Min­neapo­lis fol­lowed Boston to round out the top five cities ranked across mea­sure­ments in­clud­ing fund­ing, em­ploy­ment and num­ber of healthtech com­pa­nies.

The Healthtech In­dex rat­ing put Boston first in sev­er­al cat­e­gories in­clud­ing most healthtech star­tups and lega­cy com­pa­nies. The city came in sec­ond for high­est lev­els of pri­vate fund­ing and em­ploy­ment in healthtech (be­hind San Fran­cis­co) and third for spe­cif­ic R&D fund­ing be­hind Taipei and Bei­jing.

Mar­keters on the move

For­ma Ther­a­peu­tics has hired its first chief pa­tient of­fi­cer Ifey­in­wa (Ify) Os­unkwo. The clin­i­cal-stage biotech is cur­rent­ly de­vel­op­ing a sick­le cell dis­ease treat­ment called etavopi­vat, cur­rent­ly en­rolling a Phase II/III tri­al af­ter pre­sent­ing pos­i­tive Phase I re­sults this year. The bio­phar­ma is fo­cus­ing on rare hema­to­log­ic dis­eases and can­cers.

Os­unkwo will over­see For­ma’s pa­tient pro­grams and part­ner­ships, in­clud­ing lo­cal com­mu­ni­ty stake­hold­ers, in its bid to im­prove ac­cess and care. She served pre­vi­ous­ly as the med­ical di­rec­tor of the com­pre­hen­sive sick­le cell dis­ease pro­gram at Chil­dren’s Health­care of At­lanta and as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of pe­di­atrics at Emory Uni­ver­si­ty.

“As a clin­i­cian, I’ve seen the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects of sick­le cell dis­ease in hun­dreds of pa­tients. And I’ve come to see that treat­ment is about so much more than a ther­a­py that meets a par­tic­u­lar clin­i­cal end­point. It’s about build­ing part­ner­ships and trust as we strive to pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive, com­pas­sion­ate, and co­or­di­nat­ed care,” she said, in an email to End­points News Mar­ket­ingRx.

Metri­on Bio­sciences named Ro­ry Cur­tis to VP, US Com­mer­cial Op­er­a­tions. Cur­tis most re­cent­ly ran his own biotech con­sult­ing firm and brings 25 years of drug de­vel­op­ment ex­pe­ri­ence at com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Re­gen­eron, Mil­len­ni­um, Elixir and Cu­bist Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

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MedTech clinical trials require a unique regulatory and study design approach and so engaging a highly experienced CRO to ensure compliance and accurate data across all stages is critical to development milestones.

In­no­v­a­tive MedTech De­mands Spe­cial­ist Clin­i­cal Tri­al Reg­u­la­to­ry Af­fairs and De­sign

Avance Clinical is the Australian CRO for international biotechs providing world-class clinical research services with FDA-accepted data across all phases. With Avance Clinical, biotech companies can leverage Australia’s supportive clinical trials environment which includes no IND requirement plus a 43.5% Government incentive rebate on clinical spend. The CRO has been delivering clinical drug development services for international biotechs for FDA and EMA regulatory approval for the past 24 years. The company has been recognized for the past two consecutive years with the prestigious Frost & Sullivan CRO Best Practices Award and a finalist in Informa Pharma’s Best CRO award for 2022.

Up­dat­ed: Amid mas­sive re­struc­tur­ing, Bio­gen looks to re­duce phys­i­cal pres­ence in Boston

Biogen is putting a sizable chunk of office and research space in Kendall Square and Weston, MA up for sublease, marking another big change as the biotech grapples with the aftershock of a disastrous and controversial rollout for its Alzheimer’s drug.

The subbleases are “part of Biogen’s overall implementation of the ‘Future of Work,’ which is allowing us to optimize our footprint and reduce the amount of space we occupy, taking into consideration new elements such as the hybrid work model,” Biogen spokesperson Ashleigh Koss wrote in a statement to Endpoints News, adding that the company has had subleases across several buildings for years.

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Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' 2022 spe­cial re­port

Over the past three years, Endpoints News has spotlighted 60 women who have blazed trails and supercharged R&D across the biopharma world. And judging from the response we’ve received, to both our special reports and live events, telling their stories — including any obstacles they may have had to overcome — has inspired our readers in many different ways.

But change takes time, and the fact remains that women are still underrepresented at the upper ranks of the drug-making world.

Horizon's back-to-school campaign for children with cystinosis includes an all about me poster as part of a care package box.

Hori­zon read­ies kids and fam­i­lies for back to school with week­long ac­tiv­i­ties around rare dis­ease cysti­nosis

Going back to school is usually a bumpy readjustment from summer freedom for all kids, but especially for kids with chronic health conditions. Horizon Therapeutics is hoping to help smooth the way for some who have the rare disease cystinosis. Cystinosis is a genetic disease that causes the amino acid cystine to build up in different tissues and organs.

The “Gear Up” for school campaign is running all week with different online and at-home events and activities for families and children with cystinosis. Each family who signed up receives a care package mailed to their home including an activity coloring book “Michael’s Show-and-Tell.” The book tells Michael’s story about living with cystinosis while offering kids matching, coloring and finding object games along with information.

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Phar­mas spend mil­lions on di­a­betes ad­ver­tis­ing, but few pa­tients can re­call brand names — sur­vey

While many Big Pharma diabetes brands spend millions of dollars on TV ads every year, most people with type 2 diabetes don’t recognize specific drug brand names, according to a new study.

No brand garnered more than 30% recognition in Phreesia Life Science’s latest in-office patient survey of more than 4,000 adults with type 2 diabetes. Eli Lilly’s Trulicity topped the list as the most recognized brand with 29% of those surveyed recalling it, followed by Boehringer Ingelheim and Lilly’s Jardiance at 27% and Merck’s Januvia and Novo Nordisk tying for the third spot with 24%. Meanwhile, 76% of the patients surveyed were familiar with the generic treatment metformin.

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Illustration: Kim Ryu for Endpoints News

Why non-opi­oid pain drugs keep fail­ing — and what's next for the field

In 1938, Rita Levi-Montalcini was forced to move her lab into her bedroom in Turin, as Mussolini’s facist government expelled Jewish people from studying or working in schools in Italy. Levi-Montalcini, then just a few years out of medical school and using sewing needles as scalpels in her makeshift lab, would soon discover nerve growth factor, or NGF, in chicken embryos.

Her discoveries formed the basis of our understanding of the peripheral nervous system and how cells talk to each other, and Levi-Montalcini went on to win the Nobel Prize in 1986. Much later, NGF was hailed as a promising target for new pain therapies, with some analysts quoting an $11 billion market. However, the latest anti-NGF candidate, Pfizer and Eli Lilly’s tanezumab, was rejected by the FDA last year because of a side effect that dissolved bone in some of its patients.

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Pfiz­er launch­es re­bate pro­gram for rare dis­ease pa­tients who have to stop tak­ing Panzy­ga

Pfizer is launching its second-ever rebate program, this time for Panzyga, its treatment for a rare neurological disease of the peripheral nerves.

The program began last month, according to STAT which first reported the news, and offers a refund of out-of-pocket costs for patients who must discontinue their course before the fifth treatment for “clinical reasons.”

Panzyga was approved back in 2018 to treat primary immunodeficiency (PI) in patients two years and older and chronic immune thrombocytopenia (cITP) in adults. It has since picked up an indication in chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), a condition that’s characterized by weakness of the arms or legs, tingling or numbness, and a loss of deep tendon reflexes, according to the NIH.

Faced with thou­sands of opi­oid law­suits, En­do says it will like­ly file for bank­rupt­cy 'im­mi­nent­ly'

Endo International will likely be the next pharma company to file for bankruptcy under a mountain of opioid lawsuits.

The Dublin, Ireland-based company revealed in its Q2 results on Tuesday that it’s in talks with first lien creditors, and that “these negotiations will likely result in a pre-arranged filing under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code by Endo International plc and substantially all of its subsidiaries, which could occur imminently.”

Feud be­tween two biotechs left near­ly 12M dos­es of mon­key­pox an­tivi­ral on the ta­ble

As the US embarks on a new delivery strategy to stretch out its thinning supply of monkeypox vaccines, the need for treatments could pick up as cases of the virus rise. And the amount of courses of one potential antiviral, soon to be clinically tested for efficacy in humans, was almost 12 million more than it is today, according to SEC filings.

While not greenlit for treating monkeypox, SIGA’s FDA-approved smallpox antiviral, Tpoxx, can be requested by physicians under an expanded use program. As of Monday, HHS tells Endpoints News it had tapped into more than 15,000 of the 1.7 million courses of Tpoxx that have been stockpiled, but with cases climbing over the past few weeks, demand will likely not peter out in the near future, especially if the vaccine supply runs dry.

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