While Dudnyk saw its revenue increase again in 2019, agency president Christopher Tobias says the year’s biggest thrills weren’t financial in nature. Instead, he recalls a moment at a rare diseases summit last September when he felt the true impact of his company’s work.
As he listened to patients and caregivers describe their struggles, Tobias experienced a moment of profound gratitude. “I realized that we’re so lucky to be working in molecular medicine and gene therapy, knowing we could change their lives,” he recalls.
He’s referring in large part to Dudnyk’s work with PTC Therapeutics on a debilitating genetic condition called aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase deficiency. “It’s a mutation where children are unable to make any neurotransmitters, so they are incredibly weak and have little muscle tone,” Tobias explains.
PTC’s gene therapy could potentially become the first approved therapeutic for the treatment of the disease. Such innovations in the rare-disease realm, he adds, are “life-saving and life-changing for so many different patients.”
EVP, creative director Laurie Bartolomeo, on the other hand, points to work on behalf of Caring for Friends, a nonprofit providing food for seniors, disabled people and kids in the Philadelphia area, as a recent highlight.
“We completely rebranded the group and overhauled its website, flipping it from a print-based organization to a digital one,” she says. “It was wonderful to help them get the recognition they deserve.”
Tobias says Dudnyk exceeded expectations in 2019. The agency saw revenue climb nearly 12% to $23.1 million from $20.7 million in 2018. Staff size increased from 106 at the end of 2018 to 118 at the end of 2019.
The agency did well on the new-business front, adding three new assignments from United Therapeutics (on pulmonary arterial hypertension treatments Orenitram, Tyvaso and Remodulin) and work for Jazz Pharmaceuticals on a product in development. They join a roster that includes three brands for Takeda, four for Eyevance Pharmaceuticals and two for Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.
Tobias believes Dudnyk is uniquely situated to handle such assignments. “We have that real-world experience of not just finding patients, but creating patient communities and working in outreach, awareness and advocacy,” he explains.
Also, Tobias says Dudnyk is careful to avoid the industry trap of looking at patients and providers as if they exist in different corners of the universe.
“We focus on them together — and because we look at them equally, we see ways to find connections and create empathy,” he continues. “Helping HCPs understand what rare disease patients are dealing with is a specialization we’re really proud of, and one that sets us apart.”
Up next: a continued recruitment push in the COVID-19 era. “In this business, people joke that the most exciting day is when you win the pitch, and the hardest day is the next day, when you have to mobilize to make the work happen,” Tobias says. “Preparing for launches in a tight labor market is challenging.”
The best marketing we saw in 2019…
I’m so moved by Toyota advertising that includes Paralympians. It makes us think of all the amazing things they can accomplish that ordinary people can’t. It gives me chills. — Laurie Bartolomeo