For sensitive subjects, medical marketers occasionally have to take equally sensitive tactics.
As part of some Endo International’s campaigns around Peyronie’s disease, a condition which results in curvature of men’s penises, the company has gone for the laughs. Advertisers have often found this to be a successful way to approach delicate topics.
For example, a bent carrot has provided a helpful stand-in during promo spots for Xiaflex, the company’s leading PD treatment.
However, Endo’s latest, nonbranded app, a Peyronie’s disease self-assessment tool, is focused on raising awareness, instead of yucks. This innovation offers patients a faster route to a diagnosis while also respecting patients’ privacy. While PD may affect one in ten men, the nature of the disease means that it often goes either undiagnosed or an accurate diagnosis is delayed.
The new app hopes to change that. It debuted at the end of October, at the conference of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America. Available on the Apple App Store and via Google Play, the app provides background on Peyronie’s disease, a self-assessment questionnaire, the ability to document the nature of their curvature with a scan function using a phone’s camera, and a tool to locate a healthcare provider.
“This is a condition that most men are not willing to go out and start a conversation about. There is some sensitivity around it, some embarrassment, some fear, some shame,” Anna Sajan, senior director of medical affairs at Endo, explains. “From the moment that [symptoms are] first present, and that could be as young as in their adolescence, to the point where they actually go and see a physician to get diagnosed, it can take years.”
The impacts of that long period without a diagnosis can range from experiencing pain to psychosocial issues often related to uncomfortable feelings around intimacy. According to the Mayo Clinic, Peyronie’s disease can cause stress, anxiety and even result in penile shortening among patients.
Sajan says that creating the free app took roughly two years of development, with part of that time spent on assuring that it would be a leader in terms of privacy and security. While Endo focused on features to protect its users, it also ensured a frictionless experience by removing the password recovery option.
Simply put, if a patient forgets their password, they’ll have to download the app and begin again—and any stored images will disappear forever. Endo also, by design, chose not to collect much information regarding users’ demographics, though they can share that they are pleased with the number of downloads to date.
HCPs are also reportedly pleased with the availability of the new tool, according to Sajan.
“They are excited at the fact that their patients, and men generally, have another tool in their toolkit,” she says. “One of the clinicians [at the SMSNA conference] said, ‘This is cool. Now we can have them utilize this to do their own self-assessment and self-screening.’ I think that’s where the excitement is—the opportunity to get the word out there to educate men who might be embarrassed about this condition and who wouldn’t necessarily go see somebody. We are giving them something to help think through what their condition might be.”
Sajan sees the app as part of a broader Endo-wide effort to be a leader in conversations around men’s health, a partner when it comes to both awareness and advocacy and she cites the company’s strategic pillar of being “a force for good.”
“We have a lot of great resources out there, but making an innovative tool like this and putting that in the palms of men, that’s pretty cool,” she says.