- Gilead hopes a new direct-to-consumer ad campaign for its HIV medicine Truvada will help boost awareness about its use as a preventive treatment, and further accelerate uptake following a recent extension of the drug's label.
- Two ads, dubbed "Honestly" and "On the Pill", have aired more than 5,100 times on popular shows like "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" and "Fear the Walking Dead" since debuting in May and June, respectively, according to television research group iSpot.tv.
- The campaign is part of Gilead's first foray into DTC marketing around Truvada and pre-exposure prophlyaxis, or PrEP. Preventive use of Truvada has grown steadily, with the number of people taking the drug for PrEP reaching 180,000 by the end of the second quarter.
"I'm on the pill," says a diverse group of actors, one after another, at the start of Gilead's branded ad for Truvada (emtricitabine, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate). "But not birth control," replies the last.
With the ad, Gilead aims to make more people at risk of contracting HIV aware of its once-daily Truvada regimen, which can be taken preventively ahead of possible exposure, such as through sex.
Although Truvada has been approved for PrEP since 2012, Gilead stayed relatively quiet on the marketing front until its recent push.
Now, after a label expansion in May broadened the approved patient population for Truvada to include adolescents, Gilead has launched a multi-channel campaign in TV and digital media. The two new ads are complemented by an online presence branded as "Healthysexual."
According to iSpot.tv, Gilead has spent an estimated $22 million on placements for its two ads, garnering over 700 million impressions over the past two months or so.
While "On the Pill" specifically mentions Truvada and its label, "Honestly" is an unbranded ad that emphasizes the need to discuss HIV, testing and safer sex practices.
The campaign comes as use of Truvada for PrEP has grown, increasing 32% year over year between the second quarter and the same period last year.
Sales of Truvada have risen as well, totaling $785 million in the period between April and June — enough to make Truvada Gilead's second best-selling drug after HIV treatment Genvoya (tenofovir alafenamide).
Truvada's patent protection, however, only lasts through 2021 in the U.S., a relatively short clock for Gilead to further build up the drug's brand.
Gilead is currently studying Descovy (emtricitabine, tenofovir alafenamide), which combines a new formulation of one of the active components in Truvada, in a Phase 3 prevention trial. Results are expected in the first half of 2019, which — if successful — would give Gilead about two years to switch patients over to the newer medicine, Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges notes.
That could, however, expose the drugmaker to some of the same criticism it faced when it launched its second wave of HIV medicines based around tenofovir alafenamide, or TAF. Gilead was accused by some of slow-walking introduction of the superior TAF active ingredient in order to better time patent protection of its medicines.
Gilead also recently launched a decade-long, $100 million commitment to supporting local organizations that aim to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Southern United States.