POST SUMMARY: IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States (10 to 15% of the population). About 2 in 3 IBS sufferers are female. About 1 in 3 IBS sufferers are male. IBS affects people of all ages, even children. Although IBS is common in the general population, few seek medical care for their symptoms, so I have to wonder why Ironwood and Forest are taking such a bad approach to the DTC marketing for Linzess.
For those with IBS an additional burden comes from living in a society where the word “bowel” may scarcely be spoken. Individuals must cope with multiple symptoms that affect every aspect of their lives. Those around them may be unaware of the impact, or even the existence, of the disorder, but IBS can have a profound effect on the quality of life for those with the condition.
Lenses only works for IBS suffers who have chronic constipation, but that is not really made clear in the TV ads. The website is even more of a disaster as it’s stuck in the Web 1.0. It’s about as user friendly as a cactus and is way too wordy. Somehow, patients are expected to get the connection between the fancy lines and IBS-C.
WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE…
(1) First, focus on educating the public on IBS and IBS-C through an unbranded campaign with a focus on “quality of life issues”. I would have, for example, talked to current suffers about what it’s like to have IBS-C, what they have tried and “having the embarrassing conversation” with their doctor.
(2) An unbranded website is a must and the current website needs a lot of updating, again focusing on the product benefits that visitors can relate to. Why not lead with callouts on what it’s like to have IBS-C in real patient terms ?
(3) Saturate physicians’ offices with DTC materials, both branded and unbranded. More importantly share research with physicians that shows that most people are undiagnosed and that they may be embarrassed to have the conversation around the word “bowel”. Samples will play a key role to ensure the medication does work for their patients.
(4) Finally, talk about what it’s like to have IBS-C with real suffers via targeted unbranded DTC. People relate to one another and hearing real people talk about the real quality of life issues would do a lot to gather an audience that listens.
It’s good to see that brands are still using DTC to reach consumers, but surely we can do better than this.