Fighting two types of T-cell lymphoma on two fronts

Kyowa Kirin’s Treat the Blood, Treat the Skin campaign attempts a simultaneous appeal to physicians and patients.

Kyowa Kirin has debuted Treat the Blood, Treat the Skin, a two-pronged effort designed to spur awareness of mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome. The two rare diseases are both subtypes of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

There are about 3,000 diagnoses in the United States every year for each of the two diseases, which occur primarily in patients over 50 years old. They are twice as common in male patients as they are in female ones.

What distinguishes Treat the Blood, Treat the Skin is its dual focus. Doctors and other healthcare professionals will be targeted with messaging around the importance of measuring and monitoring blood involvement, while patients will be introduced to Kyowa Kirin's Poteligeo therapy through stories from current patients. The HCP effort launched in July and the patient component followed in September.

Poteligeo is the top prescribed systemic agent for Sézary syndrome, the more severe form of CTCL, but Kyowa Kirin still saw room for growth.

"We recognized there was a gap in the marketplace in terms of mycosis fungoides, which is the larger segment of patients," noted VP of public affairs Lauren Walrath.

Oncology marketing lead Kevin Lynch added that the brand team was keen to address a gap in physician awareness of blood involvement in patients with mycosis fungoides.

"It's understandable, because MF is such a rare condition and it usually manifests as skin symptoms, thankfully usually indolent," he explained. "Dermatologists assume that it's psoriasis or eczema and so diagnosis is delayed."

Treat the Blood, Treat the Skin was also informed by data that evaluated Poteligeo across a range of blood classifications.

“If you know there is blood involvement, you may go with something that is not a topical treatment. If a patient is progressing and all you are doing is switching topicals, that’s not ideal,” Lynch said. He added that, in some ways, “This is a typical rare disease challenge: You have a misdiagnosis and a mistreatment, and finally you connect the dots. The nuance here is that even when you make that diagnosis, there is still the blood component that is often not thought of.”

Owing in part to the ongoing pandemic, the campaign combines personal and non-personal promotion. Lynch noted that the lag in personal promotion has been felt acutely in the oncology space, estimating that a mere one-third of HCP interactions are face-to-face.

As a result, he said, “Nimbleness and flexibility are key. We have leveraged artificial intelligence coupled with the on-the-ground experience of account managers to hone in on the right targets for our messaging.”

The patient-focused part of Treat the Blood, Treat the Skin, on the other hand, was centered on a patient ambassador launch, tied to Blood Cancer Awareness month in September. Research indicated that connecting with the advocacy community represents a milestone for many patients, but finding treatments that work for them remains challenging.

“What we needed to do was find patients who would be willing to tell their stories about what it was like to be diagnosed and how their treatment experience has been,” Walrath said.

To that point, the campaign showcases three ambassadors: Jeffrey and Jim, who have Sézary syndrome, and Jeff, who has mycosis fungoides. A video focused on Jeffrey’s experience has already been launched, while one featuring Jeff will follow soon.

This story first appeared on 

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