Takeda debuts Amitiza DTC, seeking to move constipation sufferers

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Print ads urge patients: "Move to Amitiza"
Print ads urge patients: "Move to Amitiza"

Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America launched its first DTC ad campaign for chronic constipation drug Amitiza, targeting women 40 and over with TV and print ads featuring the tagline: “Move to Amitiza.”

Messaging in the ads, by Publicis' Glow Worm, plays off the disruptive way constipation holds up sufferers' days. Copy in the print ad, running in women's magazines, reads: “Why let chronic constipation slow you down?”

“They can't get moving in the morning because they have to wait around,” said Aimee Berner, marketing director, gastroenterology at Takeda, which co-markets the drug with Sucampo Pharmaceuticals. “They're stuck at the call of nature.”

Constipation affects 42 million American adults, and 12 million could be characterized as suffering from chronic idiopathic constipation, the condition for which Amitiza is indicated, Takeda said. The disease is more prevalent in women and adults over 65.

A survey commissioned by the company found that 82% of women sufferers have taken OTC medications for relief, and nearly 60% reported those treatments work only some of the time or not at all. “People think this is something they can manage themselves,” said Berner. “They don't understand that there's a point at which it isn't just an intermittent problem but becomes something that chronically affects their lives. We're letting them know that they should talk to their doctor.”

Most of the drug's competition comes from outside the pharmaceutical marketplace since Novartis pulled Zelnorm, also indicated for chronic idiopathic constipation, in March due to a worrisome heart safety signal detected in clinical trials. The Novartis drug could be reintroduced, but is currently available only under a restricted access program.

Ketchum is handling PR for the brand, while Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Advertising handles professional ads. The TV ad debuted Monday on ABC's Dancing with the Stars and will run during network evening news shows and daytime TV.

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