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Astellas offers a hot take on menopause symptoms knowledge

Most women past a certain age (cough) can talk about the “joys” of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats easily, but how many can actually use the correct medical terminology—vasomotor symptoms (VMS)—ascribed to those symptoms?

The answer is not many, judging by the new self-described “heat on the street” spot from Astellas Pharma, which asks women out and about if they know what “VMS” stand for. Most women admit they don’t know, but one woman offers a tentative guess as “a K-pop band?” So close. After being told it relates to menopause, another guess, “Very Malicious Sweat,” isn’t so far off.

The ad, which is unbranded, sends the viewer to the “What’s VMS?” website for more information about VMS, dealing with the symptoms, FAQs, resources and even a sign-up for “The Hot Take” email.

The overall tone of the project is light and even slightly quirky, making it much more engaging than the doom and gloom often associated with menopause.

What isn’t there is a mention of fezolinetant, Astellas’ experimental menopause therapy currently under priority review with the FDA, with hopes of a regulatory decision by late February of next year. So this effort feels like its laying the groundwork for the nonhormonal, oral option for women with menopause. Consider it a peri-marketing plan.

As for fezolinetant, a phase 3 trial showed the drug beating a placebo in reducing the frequency and severity of moderate to severe VMS. However, in a different Asian trial, when trialed at a lower 30-mg dose, fezolinetant failed to deliver against the placebo.

Still, according to a Jefferies report from March, it’s estimated that the will be worth up to $2.3 billion at peak, should it gain approval. The drug was acquired by Astellas in 2017 when the Japanese pharma took over Ogeda at the cost of 500 million euros ($550 million) upfront plus a potential 300 million euros in milestones.