Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly rolled out a pre-launch med-ed campaign to differentiate their positioning in the SGLT2 diabetes drug class.

In the campaign, a broken vacuum cleaner represents what may be frustrating efforts to maintain a normal blood-sugar balance in diabetes patients—sodium glucose co-transporters. SGLTs act to ensure glucose entering the kidneys reenters the bloodstream instead of being passed in the urine, with the SGLT2 protein accounting for about 90% of this re-absorption.

The new class of pills, SGLT2 inhibitors, suppresses this protein, so glucose can be excreted by the kidney. BI and Lilly filed a marketing application for their SGLT2 inhibitor, empagliflozin, with the FDA in March.

Their new med-ed campaign aims to boost doctors’ understanding of the role of SGLTs. “We could have gone a lot more scientific with this,” said Mahesh Vijay, executive director, empagliflozin marketing, Boehringer Ingelheim. “When we tested [the simplified version], clinicians liked the way we portrayed it.”

Analysts say empagliflozin could launch in the US and EU in 2014. But it won’t be first-to-market. Johnson & Johnson’s SGLT2 inhibitor Invokana (canagliflozin) was cleared by the agency in March.

The faulty vac features on, where a man vacuums his rug while dust shoots out the back. The headline reads, “Excess Blood Glucose Isn’t Going Anywhere.”

The branding is by Draftfcb Healthcare spinoff agency Area 23. which also did an educational video, Glucose Perspectives, in the sketch-animation style of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

It’s meant to “educate physicians on a certain aspect of type 2 diabetes that they may not be aware of,” noted Vijay. Unlike many new conditions, “Type 2 diabetes is not a new disease,” Vijay said. “If you talk to doctors, they’ve treated it for 15, 20, 30 years… They feel like they know almost everything there is to know…We had to think of some new way.”