Jack O’Brien interviews Sanofi’s global head of R&D portfolio strategy, Helen Merianos, who explains how genAI has “changed the trajectory” of pipeline decisions by the drugmaker. 

Lecia Bushak reports on the start of Medicare drug price negotiation and previews this week’s Senate hearing with Big Pharma

Plus, Publicis Health’s $350 million opioid settlement leads our Trends segment, along with Demi Lovato’s ‘Heart Attack’ snafu and Astellas Pharma’s return to the Super Bowl. Music by Sixième Son.

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Note: The MM+M Podcast uses speech-recognition software to generate transcripts, which may contain errors. Please use the transcript as a tool but check the corresponding audio before quoting the podcast.

Hey it’s Marc

The start of the year is a time when we at MM+M often look for proof points of pharma’s progress in R&D productivity.

In 2023, according to a tally by the journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research greenlit 71 new therapeutics. That’s the highest number in the FDA’s history, the journal points out, and well above the average of 53 per year during the 2014 – 2023 span.

While that volume is unprecedented, naturally, drugmakers want to continue increasing their pipeline output.

The traditional way has been through upping the number of shots on goal. The more drugs that enter clinical testing, the better chance that some will make it over the regulatory finish line.

But another method of improving win rates is gaining attention: better decision-making. It sounds quite simple. But consider that cancer medicine Keytruda – which is now literally the world’s best-selling drug – was initially on Merck’s list of molecules destined to be outsourced, until a competitor’s positive data prompted the drugmaker to take a second look at the commercial potential of PD-1s.

Indeed, there’s much potential in making the R&D process more predictable. And to do that, companies are infusing AI into their drug development. French drugmaker Sanofi made a very public commitment to doing so last year.

To find out whether Ai is living up to the hype, my colleague Jack interviewed Helen Merianos, Sanofi’s global head of R&D portfolio strategy.

As Merianos explains, the drugmaker has transformed its culture to incorporate genAI into its drug discovery, and the technology has already altered the trajectory of some of its decision-making. While the proof is anecdotal so far, Merianos says, Sanofi ultimately wants to measure the impact on cycle times.

This week on the show, how Sanofi is turning to AI to boost its probability of R&D success.

And Lecia’s here with a health policy update…Hey Marc, the Medicare drug price negotiation process has officially kicked off after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent out its initial price offers for the program’s first 10 drugs. Plus, I’ll preview next week’s Senate hearing with Big Pharma.

This week, we’re talking about Publicis Health’s $350 million opioid settlement, Demi Lovato’s Heart Attack snafu and Astellas Pharma’s return to the Super Bowl.

Alan it’s wonderful to have you on the show. I want to start off our conversation kind of with a big picture question. If you can take me inside the R&D strategy at Santa Fe and how it relates to play to win. I’m really kind of curious about where that stands at the start of 2024.

Well, it’s a super exciting time to be at sanofi. Thanks so much for having me. We are embarking on a strategy to really be the premiere innovator in a new science. We outline a pretty exciting portfolio of Medicine.

Coming from our R&D organization at R&D day in December.

Of last year and we’re really excited to really transform the pipeline where we’ve doubled the number of studies that we have starting in phase three and very excited about bringing these transformational medicines to patients and playing to win is really about focusing on Innovation and driving that Innovation to bring transformational medicine to patients.

And I am really kind of curious you talk about obviously having a focus on rare disease. We’re having this conversation about a week or so after the inhibrex announcement. Obviously, that’s an external poll to bring in some resources for the company. What as it relates to the rare disease work that you’re doing in-house with R&D. You know, what in the pipeline is really got you the most excited or got the company most excited.

Well, we’re

Work in the research phases related to kind of the next week what we think will be the next wave of innovation for rare diseases around like genomic medicine. So really an opportunity to potentially transform a lot of those rare diseases. We have a history of rare disease and a focus on rare disease both commercially and we’re really thinking about, you know, trying to drive and bring the Innovations and science forward there and we have an exciting couple of medicines that we’re focusing on and really focusing on hemophilia without CEO in a later stage medicine to Saran as well. So where diseases is something that will remain focused on and really thinking about trying to drive innovation in that scene and a lot of what we’re thinking about mechanistically is really focused on

immune science

It’s interesting to hear you kind of outline where you’re looking to put those R&D dollars and focus there I want to ask you because you talked about having the Innovative Technologies are able to get you across the Finish Line. Obviously, the name of the game is generative Ai, and I feel like every conversation I’ve had with an executive or the past few months has related in some way to AI your organizations, obviously invest in there. Can you talk to us about the play app and we can kind of delve into some more specifics.

Sure. So really are like broader ambison across fantasy is to be the first pharmaceutical company that powered by artificial intelligence or AI at scale.

And that’s really about giving the people in our organization the tools and the technologies that allow us to focus on insights and make better everyday decisions. So that’s the use of like artificial intelligence by experts and like data scientists in R&D, you know, so that’s sort of expert AI focusing on accelerating drug Discovery enhancing clinical trials design increasing our probability of success Etc. But in addition to that we’re really like trying to enhance our day-to-day jobs and every day decision making and leveraging AI for that and that’s kind of what we’re calling snackable AI.

And that is delivered through a platform that we’ve co-developed with Ali Labs. It’s called play and it’s a tool that is advocating over a billion data points across panel fee. There’s a number of modules that are in place across the company. So for quality for manufacturing for financials for you know marketed products for R&D. It’s really across across the company and we’re leveraging it specifically I’ll speak about how we’re leveraging and R&D is to look at actionable insights coming from the artificial intelligence and really it transforms them into recommendations for us that we can then consider from like strategic decisions, you know, should we invest in this particular medicine to operation operational decisions? So if we add clinical trials site can we accelerate enrollment for

Particular study by how much how much time could we save potentially? What would it cost to add the additional site? It gives you those instant impacts so you can play around with different choices and instead of it taking like analyzes and lots of different conversations with different people you get the the insights right at your fingertips through this app, and then you can take that information and have the right, you know human conversations. That’s the right questions have the right kind of conversation to really enhance those conversations to enhance the decision-making and it enables sharing. You know, we’re a large company.

So it breaks down it breaks down a lot of the follows that can be free for a large Company by having it all in one place and where the data across the company is shared. So for example

You know someone who’s working the commercial organization can Leverage The R&D data and say okay. So what is the AI training in terms of when this product is going to get approval in this particular market so that I can staff the launch appropriately when I need people in that market and so the data are available to plan those kinds of resourcing across the company and we’re also able to look at it to do these kind of what if scenario what if I add site.

What if I accelerate this particular program?

What if I hold a couple different levers or followed a couple different recommendations that the AI is suggesting could I potentially accelerate my time to Market and have a first to Market position for example, and so we’re really using that across the company but specifically in R&D to help accelerate our operations increase the likelihood of success for clinical studies and also make smarter investment


It’s really interesting to hear you talk about how you’re actually making that work on a day-to-day basis. I am curious how you measure success on that because it sounds like there’s a lot of different applications for the app and I’m curious if you have anything where you’re saying? Okay. So the use of this app is contributed to this project or this aspect of drug development. You know, how are you able to say it’s working out? Well, because I know it’s one of the issues with AIS like it can it can generate or facilitate a lot of different things. But how do you actually measure its success in getting you to where you want to go with your mission?

it’s a great question and it’s actually a really hard thing to do in this space when you’re you know, influencing decisions and then the outcomes of those decisions are are

far into the future, especially like the life cycle of what we’re talking about here in R&D the way that we’re thinking about it and what I can say in terms of immediate impact and how we’re measuring success is how it’s really transforming the culture at the company and how we manage and govern like projects.

The kinds of conversations that we’re having leading up to the decisions that we’re making so there’s real tangible, you know, can I put a number on it specifically?

I can’t put a number on those kinds of things. It’s more of a cultural transformation at this point in time, but based upon what we’re seeing and the insights that we’re getting. We’re also measuring success on you know, how how is the AI influencing specific decisions that we’re making so we’re saying, you know, the trajectory of this decision was altered from based upon some insights that we got from the playoff or leveraging AI so at the moment that’s anecdotal. But what we anticipate is that we will be able to accelerate our cycle Time by being able to make faster and more informed decisions on like clinical operations. And we anticipate that we should see improvements there around 10 to 20 percent quicker cycle time that will take time to realize and to really be able to measure that

And then we anticipate that we should be able to kind of increase our likelihood of success as well over time, but how we’re measuring it now is really in that Cultural Revolution and like decision by decision. You know, how did the AI and the conversation around the AI influence that particular decision?

Did we make a different Choice than we would have otherwise meet made? So it’s really at that stage today. So this is about a year old in terms of what we can measure but we fully expect over time. We’ll be able to see improvements and cycle time and improvements in our probability of success.

Yeah, you talk about being able to see them improvements. I had in silico medicines present.


I had I had Michelle chat. Yeah, and it was interesting here talking, you know, obviously I know that you’re two companies have a relationship and being able to talk about Innovation leading to Greater drug development. I bet that there are people in our audience who are looking at something like that or the future of AI and saying how is that going to be able to benefit me as a farm company with drug development. I know that you’re only about a year or so into this and you’re still looking at some of those hardcore metrics that you’re gonna be able to go on more so than the anecdotal cultural changes. Is there any sort of advice that you would pass along to them who are saying? Hey, I want to be able to get that off the ground whether I’m a legacy, you know, big Pharma institution or I’m you know, maybe a small stage clinical biopharma. You know, where where would you be able to point them in the direction saying like this is how you can start on a small level of taking your AI capabilities and bringing them to the next level for drug development.

I think that’s a great question. I would say

the thing the aspects that have made

this so far, you know such a success and really value-added in such a short period of time has really been the combination of

leveraging the technology and digital as like a

as a tool to accelerate a business transformation that you’re trying to do anyway.

Rather than it being like you’re so focused. But I want to incorporate AI into my business. It was more around more of a goal to say, you know, we need to be more agile. We need to have access to the right data at our fingertips to drive data driven decision making

And we need to transform the way in which we manage and govern our projects or you know, we need to transform the way in which we discover molecules and the way in which we develop molecules.

And it comes from a place of that that business transformation where then you’re saying. Okay. These are the business changes that I want to make and what are the leaders that I have to drive those business changes.

And how can I leverage digital and AI to do that and then you apply that like across the value chain?

And so you know, what I would recommend is.

Focus on how you can leverage it as a tool as an accelerator for a business transformation that you’re trying to drive rather than it being. You know, I want to incorporate AI into you know, everything that we’re doing is it’s much more of a we need to you know, we need to modernize.

And we need to become more agile. We need to be able to take data driven decisions. We need the best information at our fingertips.

And then it becomes very clear that AI is a way in which to deliver that and that can be a big part of the solution. And I think that’s also why we’ve applied it at scale across the value chain.

Because it’s it’s inherently now becoming the way in which we’re working and being integrated and embedded into the modernization of a lot of our business


Rather than it being, you know, like let’s look at a cool tool and then see how we can apply it.

Much more of this is how we need to transform our business. What are the best tools to help us do that and AI happens to be one of them and one that can be applied across the entire value.

And I want to ask a question following up on that last point you made is maybe what you see is the limitations as it relates to Ai and Drug development because obviously it can be an accelerator and give you all these different tools and maybe you didn’t have your capabilities even two or three years ago. But every new technology does have its limits or its ceiling. So what you consider on that front because obviously it’s not the Silver Bullet, but it does help you get along in terms of where you want to go.

Yes, I think.

You know, it’s really about helping make us and you know those of us who are trying to discover and develop medicines.


and helping us think about things in a different way providing an alternative perspective. It can’t replace the human element. It’s really in enhancement to that and sometimes you know, you’ll get insights that you’ll explore them and they’re not actionable or they don’t make sense and practice and that’s when you’re providing that feedback and their algorithm is learning from that and so there’s that subject matter expert that needs to be there at the heart of everything because there are limitations and we need to be, you know, be responsible about that. We have to have the accountability with individuals in the role to make sure that we’re making, you know responsible decisions and we’re really using AI responsibly it’s transparent it has you know human accountability Etc associated with it. So I think there are limitations that sometimes you get insights from the AI that are just you know, you have to give it feed.

Practice is not what I’m looking for. This isn’t right or you miss this important insight and then you teach the algorithm and it gets better the next time and but you have to start somewhere and it will only get better, you know through that it through that human interaction and that training and that learning and the only way you’ll really get to that is by

Using it in practice, especially in the beginning it won’t be perfect and being okay with that and still drawing the value from it and getting the insights and learning and growing and then teaching the algorithm as well.

Helen it’s been wonderful having you on the show here and obviously there’s a lot of innovative stuff that’s going on at Santa Fe. That’s why you’re on the podcast in the first place is obviously because there’s kind of leading the way on that front across the farm industry. If we were to have a follow-up conversation in January of 2025 about a year out and we were looking across the industry. What would be your expectations for adoption or further Embrace of AI as it relates to supporting drug development. Do you think that we’ll see more in the next year or so status quo a regression? I’m kind of curious from your perspective.

I think will for sure see more I think you know, some of us are sort of like at the at the boundary here and like pushing and pushing and pushing the really like trying to take this as far as it can go and really pushing the boundaries. I think, you know, there’s some like slower adopters that are interested in this I get called from peers. Like how are you doing this? Can you talk to me about how this is getting set up and I’m thinking about this. I’ve been thinking about it. So I think they’ll be more interest and people trying it. I think there will be some step back because you know, it’s not going to be perfect the first time and you know, we’ve experienced some of those things. That’s how we’re growing and we’re learning and we’re really pushing the boundaries.

I think as long as people don’t get discouraged and push ahead to say, you know, this will eventually

you know, what is the timing of that really transform how medicines are discovered and developed and you have like a fundamental belief in that and you keep moving forward. Of course, they’ll be step back, but I think

That overall there’s going to be an increase use of it because I think there’s some sort of slower adapters who are now getting really talked about quite a bit and now they’re kind of saying okay. I’m getting lost behind because I’m not really focusing on this as part of my job. Let me educate myself and get started on it. So I think it will increase for sure and there will be setbacks along the way but I fundamentally believe over the longer term. It will really transform how how medicines are discovered and develop

Yeah, it’s it’s so intriguing to see how your company is leading the way on that. Obviously you talk about some of the people that may recognize that they’re being lapped in that department might be sooner to act than later. So we’ll keep an eye posted for how other drug makers advance in that space But Helen again, really appreciate you making the time to talk to us about this really Innovative aspect of the industry and hopefully we can have you on in the future to give an update on how that work is coming along.

The negotiation part of Medicare’s new drug price negotiating power has officially begun.

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave drugmakers its initial price offers for the first 10 drugs selected. Those include therapies manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lill and AstraZeneca.

Now, it’s negotiating time. The next several months will be devoted to figuring out the new, lower list price of the drugs – or the maximum fair price – with a deadline of August 1.

Neither the government nor the drugmakers have decided to disclose the initial price offers.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra called it a “milestone” in the White House’s effort to QUOTE “ensure people with Medicare get fair prices for prescription drugs.”

Big Pharma and the government will likely tussle over the negotiation process, given that drugmakers have not been happy about the program. Since the Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022, drugmakers have launched some 10 lawsuits against the federal government. Their main arguments seek to invalidate the program.

Pharma lobbying group, PhRMA, railed against the latest move in a statement, arguing that QUOTE “government bureaucrats are operating behind closed doors to set medicine prices without disclosing for months how they arrived at the price.”


But drug pricing is on the agenda elsewhere in the Senate, with the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions or HELP committee holding a hearing this week with Big Pharma.

The CEOs of Merck, Johnson & Johnson and Bristol Myers Squibb will testify at a hearing on February 8, while lawmakers grill them about high drug costs. The CEOs agreed to be present only after Sen. Bernie Sanders threatened to subpoena them.

In particular, the hearing will seek answers from the CEOs on why drugs in the U.S. have significantly higher prices than the same drugs in other countries.

Sanders noted in a statement that QUOTE “I hope very much that the CEOs of these major pharmaceutical companies will take a serious look at these incredible price discrepancies and work with us to substantially reduce the prices they charge the American people.” I’m Lecia Bushak, Senior Reporter at MM+M.

Hey Mard, before we get into our three segments. I want to give a personal condolence to Toby Keith who passed away this morning before we record the Pod at 62 after suffering for 18 months from stomach cancer.

Toby Keith was a wonderful country music legend and the first concert I ever went to so I just wanted to send condolences out to him and his family and all the other fans that are in this time of grieving.

Late last week, Publicis Health agreed to pay $350 million as part of a multistate settlement regarding its role in the prescription opioid crisis.

The marketing and communications giant will distribute the $350 million to every state and U.S. territory affected by the opioid epidemic within the next 60 days so that it can be used for relief efforts.

In addition to the sizable financial aspect of the settlement, Publicis Health will also disclose thousands of internal documents detailing its work for opioid manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, on a public website.

From 2010 to 2021, Publicis Health served as one of Purdue Pharma’s primary marketing firms for its opioid drugs, including OxyContin, which has often been cited as one of the primary drivers of the nationwide epidemic that caused millions to grapple with addiction and killed thousands over the past two decades.

Publicis Health will also stop accepting any client work related to opioid-based Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substances, per the settlement.

In response to a request for comment MM+M, Publicis Health said the settlement capped three years of discussions with attorneys general and detailed the past work undertaken for opioid manufacturers by Rosetta, a former agency under the company’s umbrella that was shuttered a decade ago.

Publicis Health said that when it acquired Rosetta in 2011, the latter agency was already working with clients that manufactured opioids and that its work was focused on healthcare providers rather than consumers. Publicis Health added that Rosetta used communication tools and language “expressly approved” by the Food and Drug Administration that its role was “limited to performing many of the standard advertising services” agencies provide to clients.

“We recognize the broader context in which that lawful work took place,” the agency stated. “The fight against the opioid crisis in the United States requires collaboration across industries, lawmakers, and communities, and we are committed to playing our part. That is why we worked to reach this agreement, and why we are also reaffirming our long-standing decision to turn down any future opioid-related projects.”

a couple of things to unpack there, you know, first of all just to put the settlement in perspective. All together companies are expected to pay more than 50 billion with it be to stay in local governments over the next

Decades according to Kaiser Family Foundation, which totaled it all up. You’ve got the opioid manufacturers change a allergen big Distributors like ABC Cardinal McKesson

You know Walmart Walgreens CVS supermarket chain Krogers in there as well. So but the publicist settlements is symbolic in that publicist Health has pledged to stop accepting any client work. As you said related to opioid base schedule two or three Controlled Substances. So the second part of the question, you know, in terms of how much agencies and marketers have to own up to this, you know, I think you know while from a financial perspective It’s relatively small compared to what the corporate Bahamas are paying. It’s still a multi-million dollar figure multi hundreds of million dollar figure and that should have a deterrent effect and you know, there was a time when marketing of opioids was considered a I don’t know if the term prestigious type of work or not is a proper one, but you know, there was this sentiment years ago that and I think it persists in some Corners that in the pain category that pain a lot of you know, thousands of people are suffering from chronic pain in this country and they need access to

To powerful pain drugs and nothing is was as powerful as and continues to be the Benchmark to this day, you know, you know these these opioid drugs and so, you know, the, you know from from everything from medical education to creative, you know, was you know around you know, maintaining access and you know increasing awareness of these obviously we know now The Addictive potential of that of these drugs was was a legally, you know promoted as as not being you know addictive and and that there and lied the infraction. I don’t expect any other agencies to come out and publicly make the same declaration about rejecting any opioid marketing work. But you know these these kinds of settlements usually have an impact on decisions made behind closed doors and and so, you know, I would expect that to be the case here most attention in the pain category seems to have focused on moving toward non opioid Alternatives. Anyway, you know, I think vertex as a drug that

Just reported on recently that has some promising phase three results in that category. So I would expect the marketing to follow suit.

Yeah. I also just want to throw in there that you know, I feel like when we talk about the opioid epidemic it’s sort of developed into its own Beast. Now. It’s not really even about doctors prescribing to many opioids or you know, these manufacturers pushing these drugs anymore because unless several years as you mentioned Mark, there’s been a lot of settlements. There’s been a lot of lawsuits doctors, you know, the rate of doctors prescribing these drugs has decreased significantly since the opioid epidemic started, but it we’re still seeing overdose deaths continue to rise opioid overdose sex actually increase between 2022 and 2023 according to the CDC. So it’s almost like the damages done. It’s developed into its own separate Beast now, especially with the merchants of Fentanyl and all of these other complications and that’s still sort of the backdrop that we’re working with here.

Yeah, I mean

Imbalance of the decrease of prescriptions but the increase in deaths certainly suggests that that fentanyl right is is definitely the culprit here lesson and the next the next Frontier, you know, the illegal use the diversion. It’s it’s not coming, you know through as it once was as much the pill Mills and and the and the HTTP prescribing so definitely more more work to do on that front and which is another good reason why you know Marketing in this area marketers should definitely think twice before taking on this kind of work to say the least.

Yeah always in favor of more accountability than less and transparency and everything on that front.

Pop star Demi Lovato performed her 2013 hit “Heart Attack” as part of her 10-song setlist at the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection Concert in New York City last week.

“While my next song is about the intense feelings that come with falling in love as well as heart break, opening yourself up, taking risks and not being afraid to do it again, this song has many parallels for me, my journey and a reminder for all of us in the room just how strong the mind-heart-body connection truly is,” Lovato said when introducing the track.

The AHA said it supported Lovato’s decision to sing the song at the event and The Hollywood Reporter said it was well-received by the crowd.  

Some may recall, Lovato experienced a heart attack herself after overdosing in 2018. 

That didn’t stop the Internet, myself included, from questioning the decision to perform that specific song at that specific event. 

“Need Lana Del Rey to sing Born to Die at a suicide awareness event,” one post read.

Strange decision I get it. I get that she is at her own cardiac issues. And I know that that is due in part to recreational drug use but weird weird choice of what he please help.

I mean, I guess this sort of counts as one of those examples where a marketing attempt goes viral for like unintended reasons. I mean the performance got a lot of attention on social media most because people were joking about it and poking fun at it. But you know, it did technically bring a tech attention to the AHA and nonetheless into cardiovascular issues anyway, and I know that I representative for Lovato defended her decision to sing the song according to Entertainment Weekly noting that she did speak on the Mind heart connection and that quote it was a sensitive moment intended to Champion the women in the room the very reason why Demi was at the event so I believe herself was also defending the decision. I don’t know if she talked too much about her.

personal cardiovascular issues at the event itself, but I feel like that might have had more of an impact if she did touch on that because

She did, you know as you mentioned Jack survive a heart attack after a drug overdose. She had three Strokes in addition to that and brain damage from The Strokes that she’s still seeing lasting effects from she told Entertainment Weekly that she still can’t draw or she’s not been able to drive. She’s had vision problems ever since then. So I guess in theory she would have been a good candidate for the event, you know, and you think about it, but the resulting impact may not have been what they originally intended.

It’s always like the context of things like when I saw that video at first I like, you know, you kind of have that yeesh like yikes moment, but then you see the additional context you’re like I guess but even with everything that you just describe, I don’t know Mark. What do you think? Well,

I’m not gonna you know shit any, you know light on this but you know, as you point out Demi Lovato was one of several celebs who suffered and overcame Strokes in their 20s those include Game of Thrones actor Amelia Clarke.

Bieber wife of Justin then. Of course, there was DeMar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest on live TV a year ago. Always who was at the event he was at the event right? So we’ll get to him in a moment all these cases underscored the misnomer that things like heart disease cardiac arrhythmia and stroke effect only older folks. So I’d imagine that’s the reason aha selected her to perform at their event. Okay. So now I’m not privy to their internal machinations, but being part of you know committees that select and recruit speakers for our own big events often the content process that ensues after this election is a collaborative one. So you have to think that the set list and the decision to include this song was not a complete surprise to the organization. And of course the Fallout was that Lovato as one reporter pointed out quote unquote fail to read the room, but the response is mixed Hamlin, who as you said Jack was in the audience said that he actually liked the performance. So there’s did seem to be a mix response to it. And I guess it’s just, you know, like anything else.

What you know one person’s tasteless decision, you know kind of resonates with with somebody else and this is

where I’m gonna do our own Shameless plug and bring our podcast producer Bill Fitzpatrick into this because as of this recording we have the first episode out of me and my heart for part podcast series about Fitz’s own experiences with heart disease episode 2 will be out on Thursday. So when you’re listening to this I encourage you to tune in that’s what is your take on damn. I know you’re a big fan, but what is your take on this you mentioned that

to me, but I wasn’t really registering. Oh wait. She’s at a heart event about heart health singing about a heart attack.

I mean if she could do it, I guess that’s gonna be the theme song for the next episode of me and my heart, right? Yeah. It doesn’t make the most sense obviously, but like

I don’t know.

Everyone’s entitled to one of those moments in Life or a couple. Yeah, but yeah, it definitely doesn’t make the most sense now, I think I think I’ll have a heart attack great song

great song. No absolutely that cool for the summer. I’ve encourage all of our listeners after you’re done with this. Please go over to the this is Demi Lovato’s Spotify playlist and and just run through it. Please questionable decision at best. Yeah, you can all agree on that.

While it remains to be seen if pop superstar Taylor Swift will attend Super Bowl LVIII, we know Astellas Pharma will be there.

The Japanese drugmaker announced it will run a 60-second ad promoting its menopause drug Veozah (fezolinetant) during the broadcast of the big game on February 11.

Astellas said it will air a new cut of the Fewer Hot Flashes, More Not Flashes TV spot it debuted in October. The updated commercial will air after the coin toss and before the kickoff. This marks Astellas’ second consecutive year advertising during the Super Bowl.

Jill Jaroch, senior director of women’s health and urology marketing at Astellas, said the company is “super excited” to be returning to the Super Bowl and communicating about menopause to an audience projected to be in the tens of millions.

“We see the Super Bowl as an enormous opportunity to reach a massive audience; half of which is women and a good chunk of them are in midlife,” she said. “Our goal has always been to help women feel heard and their unique needs validated.”

Yeah, I mean 47% of us NFL fans are women according to their own statistics and the net perception amongst Latinos 12 to 24 year olds and women is up in the double digit percentage wise versus 2018. And that was before Taylor Swift entered the picture. So that’s only changed from there. So he gonna go up from there, you know, also looking at the statistics the average regular season of viewership per game is 16.7 million the average Super Bowl viewership us International is 260 million. And so that’s you know with Rihanna performing last year and everything and you know, a personalities that we all know and appreciate and the sport. So be interesting to see what those figures are for next year of this year Super Bowl, but you know from a media perspective seems like the

sound decision I would say so and I think it’s interesting too that they’re just, you know, not to

Not to poop at all, but they are just re-upping their ad from October too. So it’s not like they’re bringing in a new celebrity to be the face of it or something. It’s like Yep this ad has been working for us. And now we’re gonna put in front of like you said a massive Global audience and we’ll see what the response is less. I’m curious your thoughts.

Yeah. I just read a headline somewhere that said that it costs seven million dollars for an Advertiser to put a 30 second commercial into the Super Bowl which I believe is like around the same amount. It was last year, but arguably they say it’s worth it because you know in this sort of era where media channels are so fragmented and fewer people are watching television and they’re more, you know, streaming television the Super Bowl Still Remains kind of that main live event where advertisers want to get their spot in so, you know arguably for a stylist. It’ll be worth it. Even though I feel like the majority of advertisers during the Super Bowl tend to be like food and beverage companies. I know that Bud Light is planning on having a commercial

up as well this year and I don’t know maybe Mark knows a little bit more about this about you know, pharma’s historic participation in Super Bowl has it always been

Has form a sort of I feel like they usually don’t have as many companies putting their ads in the Super Bowl as is, you know other Industries, but curious your thoughts on that.

It’s certainly not a given that every year there’s gonna be one. I think it depends on the category. If it’s a mass Market drove a cardiovascular I think is you know, you more likely to see and certainly menopause affecting, you know, such a broad swath of women qualifies and I was funny you mentioned that less because I was just thinking, you know, as I Was preparing for this podcast that when you look at last year’s crop of FDA approvals, I didn’t see any any that you know, we’re you know, you know things that qualified, you know, and over half the drugs were like for rare diseases. So right there, you know you have you know less than half


potentially like the kind of drugs that you would see advertise on a Super Bowl obviously right over it has a rare disease drugs Super Bowl. But


I would it seems like the trends are moving.

Away, you know from that kind of DTC, you know, Mass Market, you know, the Super Bowl being the ultimate DTC, you know media exposure that one can get I think it’s also tough too just from a as

somebody that was raised on Super Bowl commercials and watching them you want the funny ones you want Snickers and

Doritos started

before you want something that’s like super meaningful life sales of Budweiser. I think it’s hard to like put you know, this is no offense to the farmer marketers in our audience relax, but it’s hard to put visor in between Snickers and Doritos. It’s hard to put Johnson Johnson against you know, like Thomas has a really cute one that they’re doing this year that we’ve written about on the website like it is hard when you’re taking that kind of pivot in terms of mood and Direction stuff and I again, I think part of it depends on the game too. Like if the game gets out of hand and I do give a Stella said that they don’t choose where they are able to slide it in that goes their media partner, which is Google says but it is interesting that like they get did it right at the start of the game.

Arguably you’re gonna have probably the most people other than the halfway show tuning in here. It’s like if the game gets out of hand as we’ve seen some Super Bowls. Do you know you’re you’re paying less and less attention to the game less and less attention to the commercials. And

then that’s probably the best placement they could they could have chosen because you know who Among Us hasn’t like sort of snickered a little bit when you see a Healthcare company like you say kind of juxtaposed against the cpg ads the humor and everything as I go. Okay, come on. Do you know it’s just really inappropriate venue, but right at the beginning of the game where people are engaged and sort of and still you know in their right mind. So to speak is the best place for that kind of messaging if you’re gonna do it and that’s probably the other reason why we traditionally haven’t seen a lot of Pharma spots in the big game because it’s you have to question the the adjacencies and so forth.

Well, I’m not gonna let us talk about the Super Bowl and not have a prediction. I’m gonna say the Chiefs win. I don’t I’m not I’m not about to start betting against patchering homes fits looks distress.

You’re gonna

say Niners. All right. We got one for cheats one friend.

Better about you know that I understand that boss and I’m pulling for the Chiefs in this one. Okay, just to get a little retribution.

I have no comments.

I know what that’s that’s fair enough. That’s refreshing actually. All right, well on that note we were all filling playful today. I hope everybody enjoys the big game. Thanks for joining us in this week’s episode of the imminent podcast. Be sure to listen to next week’s episode when we recap the Super Bowl and we’ll be joined by an honorary from the 2024. Mmm 40 under 40 Awards. Take care everybody.

That’s it for this week. The mmm podcast is produced by Bill Fitzpatrick Gordon failure, lesabusak and Jack O’Brien. Our theme music is by scissy him sohn rate review and follow every episode wherever you listen to podcasts new episodes out every week and be sure to check out our website. Mmm -online.com for the top news stories and farmer marketing.