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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Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Pfiz­er de­buts Pre­vnar 20 TV ads; Lil­ly gets first FDA 2022 pro­mo slap down let­ter

Pfizer debuted its first TV ad for its Prevnar 20 next-generation pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. In the 60-second spot, several people (actor portrayals) with their ages listed as 65 or older are shown walking into a clinic as they turn to say they’re getting vaccinated with Prevnar 20 because they’re at risk.

The update to Pfizer’s blockbuster Prevnar 13 vaccine was approved in June, and as its name suggests is a vaccine for 20 serotypes — the original 13 plus seven more that cause pneumococcal disease. Pfizer used to spend heavily on TV ads to promote Prevnar 13 in 2018 and 2019 but cut back its TV budgets in the past two fall and winter seasonal spending cycles. Prevnar had been Pfizer’s top-selling drug, notching sales of just under $6 billion in 2020, and was the world’s top-selling vaccine before the Covid-19 vaccines came to market last year.

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Graphic: Alexander Lefterov for Endpoints News

Small biotechs with big drug am­bi­tions threat­en to up­end the tra­di­tion­al drug launch play­book

Of the countless decisions Vlad Coric had to make as Biohaven’s CEO over the past seven years, there was one that felt particularly nerve-wracking: Instead of selling to a Big Pharma, the company decided it would commercialize its migraine drug itself.

“I remember some investors yelling and pounding on the table like, you can’t do this. What are you thinking? You’re going to get crushed by AbbVie,” he recalled.

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Amgen's Twitter campaign #DearAsthma inspired thousands of people to express struggles and frustrations with the disease

Am­gen’s #Dear­Asth­ma spon­sored tweet lands big on game day, spark­ing thou­sands to re­spond

Amgen wanted to know how people with asthma really felt about daily life with the disease. So it bought a promoted tweet on Twitter noting the not-so-simple realities of life with asthma and ended the post with a #DearAsthma hashtag, a megaphone emoji and a re-tweet button.

That was just over one week ago and the responses haven’t stopped. More than 7,000 posts so far on Twitter replied to #DearAsthma to detail struggles of daily life, expressing humor, frustration and sometimes anger. More than a few f-bombs have been typed or gif-ed in reply to communicate just how much many people “hate” the disease.

Albert Bourla (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Pfiz­er fields a CRL for a $295M rare dis­ease play, giv­ing ri­val a big head start

Pfizer won’t be adding a new rare disease drug to the franchise club — for now, anyway.

The pharma giant put out word that their FDA application for the growth hormone therapy somatrogon got the regulatory heave-ho, though they didn’t even hint at a reason for the CRL. Following standard operating procedure, Pfizer said in a terse missive that they would be working with regulators on a followup.

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Not cheap­er by the dozen: Bris­tol My­ers be­comes the 12th phar­ma com­pa­ny to re­strict 340B sales

Bristol Myers Squibb recently joined 11 of its peer pharma companies in limiting how many contract pharmacies can access certain drugs discounted by a federal program known as 340B.

Bristol Myers is just the latest in a series of high-profile pharma companies moving in their own direction as the Biden administration’s Health Resources and Services Administration struggles to rein in the drug discount program for the neediest Americans.

Joaquin Duato, J&J CEO (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

New J&J CEO Joaquin Du­a­to promis­es an ag­gres­sive M&A hunt in quest to grow phar­ma sales

Joaquin Duato stepped away from the sideline and directly into the spotlight on Tuesday, delivering his first quarterly review for J&J as its newly-tapped CEO after an 11-year run in senior posts. And he had some mixed financial news to deliver today while laying claim to a string of blockbuster drugs in the making and outlining an appetite for small and medium-sized M&A deals.

Duato also didn’t exactly shun large buyouts when asked about the future of the company’s medtech business — where they look to be in either the top or number 2 position in every segment they’re in — even though the bar for getting those deals done is so much higher.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Opin­ion: Flori­da is so mAb crazy, Ron De­San­tis wants to use mAbs that don't work

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying so hard to politicize the FDA and demonize the federal government that he entered into an alternate universe on Monday evening in describing a recent FDA action to restrict the use of two monoclonal antibody, or mAb, treatments for Covid-19 that don’t work against Omicron.

Without further ado, let’s break down his statement from last night, line by line, adjective by adjective.

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A new can­cer im­munother­a­py brings cau­tious hope for a field long await­ing the next big break­through

Bob Seibert sat silent across from his daughter at their favorite Spanish restaurant near his home in Charleston County, SC, their paella growing cold as he read through all the places in his body doctors found tumors.

He had texted his wife, a pediatric intensive care nurse, when he got the alert that his online chart was ready. Although he saw immediately it was bad, many of the terms — peritoneal, right iliac — were inscrutable. But she was five hours downstate, at a loud group dinner the night before another daughter’s cheer competition.

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Phar­ma reps need to bone up on sci­en­tif­ic da­ta and re­al-world ev­i­dence for on­col­o­gy dis­cus­sions: study

Oncologists would like a word with pharma companies. More than a word, actually – they’d like entire in-depth conversations with drug experts and more real-world data, please.

That’s according to Accenture’s new study looking at oncologists’ needs through a pharma lens. The study comes as FDA approved 16 novel cancer drugs in 2021 – including the first KRAS inhibitor – along with more than 40 new indications in oncology and hematology. Meanwhile, oncology trials are at record levels, up 60% from just five years ago, Accenture noted in its report.