PRWEEK AWARDS 2003: Specialist & Technique - Winner - Waking up to Narcolepsy - Cephalon Europe; Sante Communications

Sante Communications developed a broadcast media campaign to raise awareness of narcolepsy and increase sales of the drug Provigil, made by Cephalon.

Narcolepsy is poorly understood by GPs and many sufferers are unaware of the help that is available.

Research by Sante showed that raising consumer awareness of the disease was the most significant driver in GPs referring patients to specialist sleep centres, where Provigil may be prescribed.

With the aim of securing a prime-time TV documentary on a leading terrestrial channel, the PR team conducted a media audit to determine which programme makers were most likely to be interested in the narcolepsy story.

Sante then secured two prime-time national documentary programmes about the condition, which reached a combined audience of more than 11 million.

The first, Nap Attack, was an hour long and broadcast on 1 October 2002 at 9pm on BBC1. The second programme, Living Nightmare, was 50 minutes long and formed part of BBC2's science documentary series Horizon.

Further approaches to broadcast media resulted in BBC1's regional documentary series Inside Out running a short feature on the condition, as did Sky News, ITV's This Morning, BBC Southern Counties and London radio station LBC.

Sante worked closely with narcolepsy patient groups to gain their involvement in the programmes and ensure they were prepared to deal with enquiries once the shows had aired.

Lead clinicians and selected patients received media training, and the PR team developed narcolepsy fact sheets to send to patient groups, online information services and print journalists. More than 114 pieces of print coverage were generated by the Nap Attack and Horizon documentaries.

As a result of the campaign, the number of patients on Provigil increased, with sales of the drug rising by 31 per cent in the quarter following Nap Attack compared with the rest of 2002.


In April 2003, the universities of Birmingham, Cardiff, Oxford and Warwick, plus King's College London, launched a three-month trial of Research TV.

A new service for broadcasters, it was designed to enhance the visibility of UK research universities in international markets to attract students, staff and corporate contracts, and charitable and philanthropic gifts.

With support from research body the Economic and Social Research Council and regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, the fortnightly news feed featured video news releases about research undertaken by consortium members.

The service was managed by the University of Warwick and distributed through Reuters, backed by a website.

Independent evaluation by J Walter Thompson showed broadcasters in 30 countries used Research TV.


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