At a glance: Raptiva gets EU marketing approval

What’s Raptiva? A new treatment for psoriasis, manufactured by Swiss-based firm Serono. It has been given European Commission marketing authorisation for adult patients with moderate to severe cases of the condition who have found other treatments inadequate.

How does Serono want to pitch itself to the market?

PR will be a mixture of medical and consumer campaigns, with the advantages of biological treatment emphasised over what has gone before. Raising awareness of the disease is also seen as important. A template for pan-European comms for Raptiva, including generic feature material and b-rolls, has already been worked out from Geneva. Local PR managers will work directly on it or with their agencies. Munro & Forster Communications is promoting Raptiva in the UK.

Why is this treatment interesting?

It is the first new biological treatment for psoriasis to win approval in the EU. The condition has tended to be treated with creams but Raptiva is administered by weekly injection. It is based on proteins which already exist in the body and is designed to target T-cells, the white blood cells that are known to be the major cause of psoriasis.

So what are expected to be among the main PR messages?

The idea that the treatment will have a significant boost to people’s quality of life. There has been a fair bit of media relations work across Europe already, with journalists invited to Vienna and Florence. Activity has focused on the effect of the condition, with characters from famous paintings reconfigured as though they suffered from psoriasis.

Intriguing promotional tactics… and this treatment has NICE approval?

Not yet. NICE will be looking at Raptiva in March or April 2005. Serono says that it is not expecting great take-up before that happens, although the treatment will be available in the UK by the end of the year. It will be introduced throughout the rest of Europe during 2005. The drug has already been approved in Switzerland, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil.

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