- A new ad campaign for Amgen's Repatha (evolocumab) touts that the medication can get consumers "on the path" to better cholesterol levels than treatment from statins alone.
- Repatha is part of a highly anticipated, though so far commercially disappointing, class of drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors. The treatments target low-density lipoproteins (LDL), what most consider the "bad" form of cholesterol.
- The 1-minute, direct-to-consumer (DTC) ad had 319 national airings by Tuesday afternoon, according to iSpot.tv, a television commercial analytics company.The spot is debuting as Amgen continues to tussle with Sanofi and Regeneron in court over patent litigation related to the duo's competing PCSK9 drug Praluent (alirocumab).
"Working hard to lower your LDL bad cholesterol? Not making enough progress? You eat well, take the highest dose statin you can, but still aren't getting where you need to be," says a voiceover at the beginning of the ad, entitled "Don't stand still."
The words hum over three main characters: a man riding bike, a woman traveling on a train and another man climbing an escalator. No matter how hard the characters try, the barely make any progress moving toward their destinations.
"Now there's Repatha, a different way to reduce LDL and get on the path to dramatically lower numbers," the voiceover continues, at which point an electric blue wave lights up each character's respective path and freeing each from slowed movement "Repatha works differently than your statin to help clear LDL. Repatha, plus the highest dose statin, drove down LDL an average of 71% more than a statin alone."
The marketing effort comes at an interesting time for both Repatha and the emergent PCSK9 class.
Amgen's patent victory in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware has seemingly given the biotech the upper hand over Sanofi and Regeneron. Judge Sue Robinson's January ruling for a permanent injunction against Praluent, which would have effectively banned the drug from markets, surprised many in the industry.
A federal appeals court has since granted a temporary reprieve that allowed Praluent to stay on the market until the appeals proceedings wrap up. While the decision gives Sanofi and Regeneron room to breath, the legal headaches could continue for some time, leaving a patent risk hanging over Praluent.
Court wranglings aside, sales of Repatha and Praluent have clocked in well below the high expectations industry followers set for the drugs when they first came on the scene in 2015. At that time, some analysts predicted Amgen's drug would reap peak annual sales as high as $5 billion.
Amgen may get another boost in short order, too. Late next week, the company will present more detailed data from its Phase 3 FOURIER trial testing cardiovascular outcomes for patients on Repatha. Amgen has already revealed the trial succeeded, but a larger-than-expected benefit would go far in speeding sales of the drug.