Horizon Therapeutics took on kidney disease and gout, an often-misunderstood and underestimated condition, in its latest HCP campaign.

The campaign highlighted the risk that uric acid, the cause of gout, poses to patients’ kidneys in an animated video. Horizon worked with Area 23 and animation studio Hornet to develop the campaign, called Down and Out Kidney.

In the campaign, a personified kidney receives a friend request from uric acid. They begin hanging out constantly, to the annoyance of kidney’s other friends, heart, bones, hands and feet. Uric acid grows bigger and more menacing as the video progresses, taking over more of the kidney’s life until the kidney is shown on the streets pleading for help after watching his friends be tortured by the pain from uric acid and gout.

“Our goal is to capture the attention and facilitate conversation around the connection between kidneys, uric acid, gout and the subsequent total body uric acid deposition,” said Michael Nagro, senior director of gout marketing at Horizon Therapeutics. “The thing we often hear is, ‘it’s just gout.’ We have to change how people see this disease.” 

Horizon is focusing the campaign on nephrologists, kidney specialists. Its sales force materials, online ads and emails to doctors will all include the animated video. Horizon also timed the campaign to launch during National Kidney Month in March.

The campaign is drawing attention to the role gout and uric acid play in patients with chronic kidney disease. Many doctors, Nagro said, believe gout is only a rheumatological disease, affecting only the joints, but uric acid affects many other parts of the body as well.

Horizon, Area 23, Hornet Down and Out Kidney campaign
Source: Horizon

“Nephrologists are busy, they take care of a lot of different diseases for patients with [chronic kidney disease],” Nagro said. “Gout is not necessarily the most important disease they treat. They all know and think about uric acid, but we don’t have a lot of ways to engage with them.”

The video is meant to be that engaging point. It tells a powerful story of a kidney being overwhelmed by uric acid and the pain a patient can go through if this happens to them. It depicts how a gout flare up in the hands and feet can feel and the pain of bone erosion from uric acid.

The challenge of creating an animated video for doctors is ensuring that the information is medically accurate, Nagro said.

“The biggest thing is when you create something that is cartoon, you want to make sure it’s medically accurate,” he continued. “We want to be able to convey the science and information as accurately as possible. For this, we worked collaboratively with the medical affairs team, going through papers and making sure everything depicted in [the video] is supported by clinical papers and scientific references.”