Over the past few months, the Biden administration has touted COVID-19 drugs and monoclonal antibodies as an integral part of the fight against the virus.
In April, the administration stated that it would aim to expand access to oral antiviral drugs like Paxlovid, Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral drug, for Americans, but months into the rollout, the use of some of those drugs is lower than expected.
This has also been the case for Evusheld, AstraZeneca’s monoclonal antibody that was authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration in December 2021. According to Andrew Leone, executive director of vaccine sales and marketing at AstraZeneca, use of the drug hasn’t been up to par with company expectations.
“We partnered with the U.S. government on this program and over the last couple of months, we saw lower utilization of Evusheld than expected, quite honestly,” Leone said.
To address the low rollout, AstraZeneca has launched the first direct-to-consumer ad campaign for an emergency use product. The ad – a straightforward TV spot that will air on connected TV like Yahoo, FOX and CBS Sports as well as online channels – is the company’s attempt to start spreading more awareness about the drug.
Evusheld is designed to be used as a preventive treatment for immune-compromised people. About 40% of all breakthrough infection hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are among immune-compromised patients, according to Leone.
“We know there’s still a massive unmet medical need,” Leone pointed out.
The awareness campaign comes after a recent study that found Paxlovid was also lagging in its rollout. That study found that up to 42% of U.S. counties are considered ‘Paxlovid deserts.’
Part of AstraZeneca’s awareness efforts will include partnering with the U.S. government to educate healthcare providers and doctors, many of whom aren’t always aware of the availability of such treatments.
“We saw that awareness even among physicians and specialists was low,” Leone explained. “That was one of the gaps that we saw and put some interventions in to hopefully improve that portion.”
“There are still millions of immunocompromised individuals who could benefit from an intervention like Evusheld,” Leone continued. “It’s about raising awareness and education to those individuals and to the doctors to make sure they have that option.”