Given the abundance of months dedicated to diseases and ailments, July’s status as Graves’ Disease Awareness Month may not have registered with most Americans. Horizon Therapeutics is nonetheless doing its best to increase awareness of both Graves and thyroid eye disease (TED). The company makes medications to treat both conditions.
Horizon reports that nearly one out of every 100 Americans has Graves’ disease, which is responsible for four out of every five cases of hyperthyroidism. TED is a related condition characterized by inflammation and damage to tissues around the eyes, which impacts about half of patients with Graves’ disease.
Leading Horizon’s efforts is three-time Olympic gold medalist Gail Devers (who has been living with Graves’ disease and TED for more than 30 years). Her team of advocates has grown to include Wanda Durant, the mother of NBA star Kevin Durant.
Durant hopes to use her platform to emphasize the importance of monitoring for TED. In fact, she credits her own awareness of TED to Devers.
“I never knew that I was at risk of TED until hearing Gail’s story,” Durant recalled.
Durant, who was diagnosed with Graves’ disease in 2005, needed to feel confident about Horizon’s efforts before lending her voice to them.
“For her, it’s really important that she works on campaigns that she feels reach people and help them with health issues that they weren’t even aware of,” said Horizon senior manager, product communications Maggie Fairchild. “This campaign checked all those boxes.”
The fact that two women are leading Horizon’s efforts is fitting, given that Graves’ disease is roughly five times as common among women as men. The campaign is specifically targeting women in two age groups: those in their 40s (even as Graves’ disease is increasingly diagnosed in younger patients) and those over 60.
The “Eyes on TED”social component aims to reach those women by encouraging viewing and sharing of information, including posts from Devers and TED eye specialists.
“We know for a fact that women in and around their 40s are on Facebook and Instagram,” Fairchild noted. “We also do a lot with media spend for commercials, reaching women on the networks they’re watching like Bravo.”
In addition to the campaign’s social component, Horizon is rolling out new episodes of the Listen to Your Eyespodcast, featuring Devers, Durant, patients with TED, their caregivers and experts, and more. A parallel social campaign, “Race to Diagnosis,” uses a mobile game to encourage people who may have either Graves’ disease or TED to find a diagnosis within 10 weeks. An educational video will premiere on YouTube before month’s end.
Common to these efforts, Fairchild said, is an emphasis on patients.
“What we’ve tried to do is elevate that patient voice and that patient story, just to remind people that live with thyroid disease or people that are at risk for thyroid disease that they’re not alone,” she explained. “Most of them go decades without ever knowing or meeting someone else that has the disease.”