Teva targets opioid abuse with the absurd

Teva worked with Golin on a video series that uses humor to address prescription drug abuse. 

Teva Pharmaceutical is approaching opioid abuse with a taste of the absurd in a new three-part video series in its Pain Matters initiative.

The unbranded initiative debuted a year ago with the launch of Its goal is to educate patients and providers about responsible pain management.

Teva manufactures two branded fentanyl-based pain products, Actiq and Fentora. The Centers for Disease Control has linked the abuse of fentanyl to the death of nearly 1,000 people in Ohio. The same report found that one in five people who had died from a fentanyl overdose had been prescribed an opioid at the time of death.

See also: Purdue debuts opioid-abuse resource

The videos depict real-life scenarios with a heavy level of exaggeration and unsettling humor to drive home the point that “we're all a part of this problem, and we're all a part of the solution,” said Samantha Schwarz, an executive director for Golin and the agency's healthcare practice lead for its Chicago office. Golin developed the campaign for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.  

In one video, a man shows his friend around his basement while his kids play ping pong. The man shows off his sport memorabilia to his guest and then discusses another collection: his pain medications from previous surgeries. Another video in the series begins with a woman waiting in line with her friend at an event. A bouncer checks her purse and finds prescription pain medication. She brushes off the bouncer's concerns saying that they're not just for her, that she shares them with her friends.

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“Most of the work around opioid abuse is very dark,” said Geoffrey McCartney, executive creative director for Golin.  “We needed to find another way in and move away from moody and dark. So we came in with over-the-top of absurdity that grabs people's attention.”

Purdue Pharma, another opioid pain pill manufacturer, launched an abuse resource in August to educate healthcare providers and patients about abuse-deterrent painkillers. Like Teva's Pain Matters initiative, Purdue's initiative — — also uses the concept of uniting healthcare stakeholders to curb prescriction drug abuse.

See also: FDA finalizes opioid guidance

The FDA recently required a black box warning on fast-acting opioid based pain medications, warning patients that they carry the potential for abuse, addiction, overdose, and death.