Wyeth Winds Up With New Pristiq Campaign

Jun 09, 2009

Wyeth, last week, launched a new print and television campaign for its latest antidepressant Pristiq (desvenlafaxine)—a fairly new drug in a very crowded category. The ads are meant to target people who ignore treatment, discontinue their medication, or simply give up. The creative team at advertising firm JWT interviewed hundreds of patients to find out what they feel when they suffer from depression and what motivates them to speak to their physician.

“Despite the fact that we have more than a dozen modern antidepressants on the market already, there is a significant need for patients that don’t respond to medication; one drug doesn’t fit every patient,” said Andreas Eggert, vice president and global business manager for Pristiq.

The television spot opens with a woman winding a toy doll that resembles her. The ad then cuts to a visual explaining how Pristiq affects the serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain to help patients feel better.

“Patients said that they feel like they have to wind themselves up to get up in the morning, to get through the day—everything feels more difficult for them and they have to wind themselves up,” Eggert explained.

Fair Balance
Depression isn’t an easy category to advertise in. Beyond the innate melancholy inherent in most of depression commercials (see Eli Lilly’s Depression Hurts), antidepressant treatments have enough side effects to take up half a commercial or one whole side of print ad.

In his Pharma Marketing blog, John Mack took Wyeth to task this week, claiming that the ad doesn’t appear to meet the latest FDA DTC guidelines, released just a few weeks back. But Eggert said that balancing the risk and benefit information is a significant challenge.

“While we recognize the importance of communicating both benefits and risks, creatively it is a challenge because it takes 37 seconds of the [60 second] ad [to explain the fair balance],” Eggert told Pharm Exec on Tuesday. “We had to highlight the important aspects of the risk program. We discussed with the FDA, and came to the conclusion what the most important aspects were that we wanted to communicate with the patients.”

Pristiq was approved last year, but Wyeth chose to wait a year before diving into DTC advertising for its new serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor.