Epilepsy: New Perspectives, New Choices
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
CEO

Epilepsy: New Perspectives, New Choices

To publicize its new drug Keppra, UCB Pharma commissioned research about epilepsy from the perspectives of those who have the disorder and their caregivers.

Paul Holmes

Patients with epilepsy have long endured the indignities and uncertainties associated with this disorder, including widespread public misconceptions, the inability to control their seizures, and a negative impact on their quality of life as well as that of family members.  Until recently, the treatment options to manage epilepsy have been limited and many epilepsy patients fear trying or switching to a new medication.
 
To publicize its new drug Keppra in conjunction with its national epilepsy campaign “Epilepsy: New Perspectives, New Choices,” UCB Pharma commissioned research about epilepsy from the perspectives of those who have the disorder and their caregivers.
 
OBJECTIVES
 
  • Uncover treatment issues, attitudes and barriers facing epilepsy patients and their caregivers
  • Examine epilepsy patient and caregiver perceptions of public acceptance and understanding of the disorder
  • Develop key messages to reach epilepsy patients and their caregivers about the benefits of Keppra and to inform the general public about epilepsy
  • Drive sales of Keppra
 
AUDIENCES
 
  • The primary audience was epilepsy sufferers (3+ years)
  • The secondary target audience was epilepsy caregivers and the general public
 
RESEARCH APPROACH
 
A combination of qualitative and quantitative research was undertaken to meet these objectives and to gain a better sense of both the emotional and rational dimensions of epilepsy.  First, a focus group was conducted in Fort Lauderdale, Florida among adults with epilepsy and parents of children with epilepsy. Fort Lauderdale was chosen because of its proximity to the Epilepsy Foundation of South Florida, who assisted with the difficult challenge of recruiting the twelve respondents. The purpose of the focus group was to learn firsthand what it is like to live with epilepsy or to care for a family member with epilepsy. 
 
The findings from the focus group were then used to assist in the development of a quantitative survey. A nationwide telephone survey was conducted among a total of 1,003 respondents, including 900 adults with epilepsy and 103 caregivers of immediate family members with epilepsy. Among the topics explored were the use of epilepsy medications, seizures and other side effects experienced, sources of information about the condition and the impact on daily activities and the quality of life of those with epilepsy and their families.
 
RESULTS
 
The qualitative and quantitative research produced interesting insights:

       While some epilepsy patients denied the limits of their condition, nearly half (43%) admitted to lower

       quality of life expectations, and 70% claimed that side effects have affected some aspect of their lives.

       Nearly 60% of epilepsy sufferers were reluctant to switch medications despite the fact that 70% still

       experience seizures with their current medications.

       Over half of those with epilepsy (58%) expressed concern that the public is either uninformed or

       misinformed about the disorder.
 
Research findings yielded news hooks for a 28-market awareness campaign using John O’Hurley that produced 20 million media impressions reaching the general public in television, radio and print outlets across the country.
 
Keppra sales not only reached first year goals but exceeded these goals by 8%.

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