UCB turns Crohn's patients into brand advocates

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UCB turns Crohn's patients into brand advocates
UCB turns Crohn's patients into brand advocates

UCB launched a multifaceted campaign for its Cimzia injectable, calling on patients and doctors to publicly educate others about Crohn's disease and treatment.

The campaign includes the publication of a free quarterly magazine called Crohn'sAdvocate, a series of events hosted by patient-advocates and gastroenterologists, and a website.

Bert Kelly, manager, US communications and PR at UCB, said patient advocates, upon completing a three-day orientation, would be available to speak at several upcoming events for a small stipend — expenses plus a “couple hundred dollars.” Patients will share their stories about Crohn's, and their use of Cimzia, in a “combination of experience and branded content,” said Kelly, adding that the advocates won't be giving out medical advice. Physicians involved in the events are "paid an honorarium in line with industry standards based on their time out of the office," said Kelly.

The magazine, available for free via the website or in doctors' offices, features a bevy of contributors ranging from physicians to patients including Los Angeles-based comedian Ben Morrison and former National Hockey League player Kevin Dineen. The pilot issue launched in May, and the third edition will drop in January 2010. All editorial content for the magazine is developed in concert with its contributors by NY-based inVentiv shop Biosector 2, and publishing company PBM Graphics, of Durham, NC. Both the Crohn'sAdvocate and Cimzia websites were built by Heartbeat Digital.

Patient advocates “are geographically spread out,” and also represent a variety of socioeconomic castes, from college graduate to blue collar worker, said Kelly. The program technically began with speaking engagements last spring – the second round of events commenced on September 17 in Jacksonville, FL, and will head both west and north, before looping back to Memphis, TN on November 5. Kelly said the events last spring drew 25 to 30 attendees per engagement.

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