The drugmaker is using ads like the one above to build awareness for osteoporosis on its Facebook page.
Radius Health received FDA approval April 28 for its osteoporosis drug Tymlos, creating the first new bone-building therapeutic in the market since Eli Lilly’s Forteo in 2002.
Three weeks later, the competition thinned out even further when Amgen announced an unexpected safety issue for romosozumab — its experimental osteoporosis drug — after discovering that the treatment may increase the risk of heart attacks by 30%. Amgen already markets another leading osteoporosis drug Prolia.
“There’s hasn’t been a lot of treatment options for a really long time,” said Kate Hermans, VP of marketing for Radius Health. “Osteoporosis isn’t the hot topic du jour. When you highlight for physicians and patients that the prevalence is much greater than stroke, heart attacks, and breast cancer combined, it gets their attention.”
The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that one in two women older than the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. Tymlos was approved by the FDA to treat postmenopausal women at high risk of a fracture, or those who have failed other treatments. Its primary competitors — Eli Lilly’s Forteo and Amgen’s Prolia — saw combined sales of $772 million in the first three months of 2017.
But the lack of of new treatment options has also created a lack of awareness around the disease, Hermans noted. One of the biggest hurdles for the drug, she explained, is to address the “apathy that exists in this space.”
As part of its marketing strategy, Radius is specifically targeting women in their 50s and 60s as it seeks to expand the overall market and address misconceptions. “This is not your grandmother’s disease.” Hermans said.
To that end, the company launched an unbranded Facebook effort, Fractured Truth, to educate and raise awareness among women in this age group. “A lot of people at first will say, osteoporosis and Facebook, is that the right match?” said Lindsey McClennen, consumer marketing director for commercial marketing at Radius. “But we know that women in that 50-to-70 age range are the most likely to share on Facebook.”
The social media campaign rolled out on Mother’s Day and included paid search efforts. McClennen said the messaging revolves around “fracture facts,” to inform consumers that one in two women older than the age of 50 will have a fracture caused by osteoporosis. The tone of the campaign is meant to be “informative and cheeky,” she said.
Radius Health enlisted Patients & Purpose as its creative agency for the campaign, Silverlight Media as its media agency, and W2O Group assisted with its implementation on Facebook and related PR efforts.
One Facebook post says, “Only ‘old ladies’ fall and break their bones. That’s a fractured truth.” Since its launch the Facebook page has generated 4,400 likes and has had a reach of over 350,000 Facebook users, according to McClennen.
Radius is also using print ads (pictured) to raise awareness around the disease.
“We wanted to make sure we were empowering women to have a smarter discussion with their physician,” but the other challenge, she said, is that there is not one specialty of medicine that treats osteoporosis. Radius will start with physicians who have experience treating osteoporosis, those with expertise using injectables, and patients using anabolics, a class of osteoporosis drugs that includes Tymlos and Eli Lilly’s Forteo, to treat their disease.
Hermans added that the company will not focus on primary care physicians but will target endocrinologists, rheumatologists, and orthopedic surgeons, among others.
The company has no plans to run DTC advertising for Tymlos.
The strategy for its 230 sales reps, she said, will be trifold: “to reinforce the urgency to treat, why an anabolic may be the right option for a patient, and why Tymlos may be the appropriate anabolic option for that patient.” Radius also plans to make a number of media buys in journals but would not disclose which ones, as the buy is still underway.