Pfizer’s Viagra is so much a part of the cultural landscape that, “little blue pill” is often all that’s needed to identify the drug. Not so much for Addyi, Sprout Pharmaceutical’s “little pink pill” to treat women’s Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD).
After a rocky start in 2015, Addyi is looking to stage a comeback and Sprout is hoping to change its difficult past with a fresh marketing launch that will feature radio and social channels. The ads, as well as the webpage, are very, very hot pink and show stylized pop-art animated women throughout—imagine Roy Lichtenstein meets Betty and Veronica.
The Facebook ad, which is a still print with scrolling ISI, features a different style of animation, a more simple line drawing of a sad-looking woman and man. The thought bubble above the woman reads: “I love him…but I’m frustrated that I’m never in the mood.”
“Women deserve to know that there are treatment options for their concerns in the bedroom, too, after decades of only talking about options for men,” Sprout CEO, Cindy Eckert in an interview. “After all, more women than men suffer from sexual dysfunction.”
In the U.S. Addyi is aimed at premenopausal women with HSDD, in Canada it’s for both pre- and post-menopausal women. The latest incarnation of Addyi comes with a Black Box warning against consuming with alcohol.
Right on the heels of the approval, Valeant—now known as Bausch Health—scooped up Addyi maker Sprout for $1 billion in cash. Valeant, notorious for price hikes and M&A, never made the launch work. It eventually returned the drug’s rights to Sprout’s original owners in exchange for a small royalty.
In 2018, Sprout slashed its price in half and launched a new marketing strategy that included a telemedicine model designed to help prescribing.
Problems still persist with new safety concerns over hypersensitivity. The drug competes with AMAG Pharmaceuticals, which has since launched its own HSDD drug, Vyleesi, in 2019.
According to Eckert, Google searches for HSDD have increased by 650% in the last year, but despite this there are naysayers when it comes to HSDD. Eckert dismisses this as absurd.
“How do you convince someone the earth is round if they believe it’s flat? Science deniers will always exist,” she said. “HSDD has been medically recognized since the 1970s, appears in the International Classification of Diseases, has a validated diagnostic screener, is the subject of more than 29,000 peer-reviewed medical journal publications and has safe and effective treatments approved by two of the world’s largest regulatory bodies.”