- Against a backdrop of intense market competition, Novo Nordisk has rolled out a direct-to-consumer campaign for Ozempic, its once-weekly, injectable Type 2 diabetes medication.
- Set to the tune of Pilot's 1974 hit "Magic," the 90-second spot touts that a majority of adults in a study of the drug achieved lower blood sugar and A1C levels, which indicate average blood sugar in recent months, of less than 7%. A voiceover also says treatment with Ozempic may lead to weight loss, though on-screen text clarifies that it's not a weight loss drug.
- The commercial first aired on July 30 and has been nationally broadcast 122 times as of Wednesday, according to iSpot.tv, a television advertising analytics firm. Though Novo declined to comment on how much it has spent on the DTC campaign, iSpot.tv estimates the figure sits at about $950,000.
While Novo's latest DTC effort carries an upbeat tone — "Oh, oh, oh, Ozempic," sings a voice at the start of the commercial — the Danish drugmaker will need more than magic to secure its place in the diabetes market.
There, competition is stiff. For Type 2 diabetes alone, patients can try a sodium glucose co-transporter-2 inhibitor like Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly & Co.'s Jardiance (empagliflozin), or maybe a DPP-4 inhibitor like Merck & Co.'s Januvia (sitagliptin). A host of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogs are also available, including Lilly's Trulicity (dulaglutide), AstraZeneca's Byetta/Bydureon (exenatide), and Novo's own Victoza (liraglutide) and Ozempic (semaglutide).
What's more, Trulicity, Jardiance and Januvia are among the rivals already on the air with ad campaigns.
The saturation has stung Novo, one of the big-three diabetes drugmakers along with Sanofi and Lilly. First quarter sales from its diabetes care and obesity business fell 5% year over year, while operating profit declined 8%.
Not all of Novo's diabetes products are suffering, however. GLP-1s have proven to be bright spots in the company's portfolio, and potential sources of growth.
"When we look at the therapy split on our products, you can see that the majority of our sales growth in the first quarter is coming from ... Victoza," Novo's Chief Financial Officer Karsten Munk Knudsen said during a May earnings call, adding that GLP-1 sales rose 20% in the U.S. and 12% outside the U.S. for the period.
Though Knudsen described early sales for Ozempic as "benign," he also noted that was largely due to stocking from the product's launch and that new prescriptions (NRx) were ticking up nicely.
Ozempic's GLP-1 NRx market share grows, but rivals remain daunting
|Week of: March 2
SOURCE: Cowen & Co., Iqvia
Data compiled by Iqvia and cited by Cowen & Co. shows Ozempic carved out a 5.6% share for the GLP-1 non-insulin antidiabetics market and secured nearly 5,000 new prescriptions for the week of July 20. Novo's campaign, which includes digital, point-of-care and television channels, could further fuel prescription volume.
"With this campaign, what we're trying to do is show patients there's another treatment and if they have not been successful that Ozempic maybe an option to add to their treatment plan to help them meet their A1C goals," said Jenn Harrington, associate brand director of patient marketing at Novo, in an interview with BioPharma Dive.
In crafting the commercial, Novo researched and spoke with Type 2 diabetes about their disease. The resulting spot features three main characters, a firefighter, a farmer and a mother, who exclaim "Oh" when hearing the different benefits of taking Ozempic.
"What we tried to do is take an element of surprise around those key benefits, and put that to the creative to hopefully set us apart from the competition," Harrington said.
On the competition front, Novo is also working on an oral version of semaglutide. The pharma has initiated 10 late-stage studies of the formulation, four of which have already read out while the other six are expected to wrap up this year.
Results from the latest two, released in June, found that once-daily semaglutide was non-inferior to Victoza at lowering blood sugar for Type 2 diabetes patients who weren't adequately controlled by metformin, and that a significantly greater percentage of patients taking dose-adjusted semaglutide had A1C levels below 7% compared to those receiving Januvia.
Harrington said discussions haven't taken place yet on whether Novo will deploy DTC advertising for oral semaglutide should it gain approval.