TYSABRI, was hailed as a breakthrough treatment for a devastating disease upon approval in 2004 as a highly effective treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) co-marketed by Biogen Idec and Elan Corporation, plc. However, in less than a year TYSABRI had gone from hero to zero due to a rare, but serious adverse event associated with the drug. Patient demand for the drug, along with a robust risk management plan, led to the reintroduction of TYSABRI in late 2006; however media coverage continued to ignore the best-in-class efficacy while focusing only on potential safety. Consistent, responsible efforts to achieve balanced media coverage were met with little success, while a lack of new data or significant brand milestones afforded few opportunities to highlight TYSABRI benefits. To rebuild a positive Brand image, a change in communications direction was clearly needed, and GCI Health met the challenge with an upbeat consumer PR campaign, MyMS Yoga, that emphasized maximizing possibilities rather than surrendering to limitations. The compelling platform represented a comprehensive fusion of science and wellness/lifestyle choices in helping patients manage a chronic, debilitating disease with no cure. 
The overwhelming results of this program, generating 360 million impressions and over 11,845 registrations in a relationship marketing database, directly correlate to measurable product starts resulting in a 3.3 to 1 net ROI ratio.
  • Increase patient understanding of the efficacy of TYSABRI
  • Secure campaign and brand coverage in traditional and social media channels to gain exposure for TYSABRI benefits
  • Increase enrollment in the Biogen Idec consumer relationship marketing (CRM) database 
GCI Health’s research to identify the demographics, interests and treatment of MS patients revealed that yoga is increasingly incorporated as a part of therapy for MS by the medical community.  We also found that more than half of the millions of American adults practicing yoga are between 20 to 50 years old, the same age range when MS is first seen.
Based on these core insights, GCI Health conceptualized MyMS Yoga, a campaign to link TYSABRI to the well-regarded healthful practice of yoga and to highlight the possibilities rather than the limitations of living with MS through proper treatment and yoga. Founded on compelling data and leveraging the power of authentic patient experience, the campaign provided a platform to showcase the unique benefits of a game-changing drug as well as a way to tell the full TYSABRI story directly to key audiences through multiple channels. Specific media targets included a broad range of consumer and lifestyle reporters who were more likely to be interested in covering how patients cope with MS rather than focusing on drug safety or the competitive landscape. 
GCI Health enlisted world-renowned yogi and author Baron Baptiste to partner with leading neurologist Elliot Frohman, M.D., on developing a modified yoga program for MS patients. Available on a free DVD, the program featured three classes for varying levels of ability.  Poses to alleviate specific MS symptoms (e.g., loss of balance, fatigue, muscle weakness) were demonstrated by.MS patients in treatment with TYSABRI therapy, making the DVD relatable and credible.
Baptiste and Frohman were paired with TYSABRI patients who regularly practice yoga to serve as campaign spokespeople. Mechanisms to reach and interact with target audiences included: national and local media tours;, local patient yoga events;, third-party engagement; integration with Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM), sales and patient services initiatives, including leave-behind information/detail aides to inform health care providers and their patients A comprehensive online component included sustained digital engagement with the tight-knit online MS community and an integrated website to disseminate program materials and capture consumer patient marketing (CRM) patient leads. Additionally, internal communications included MyMS Yoga classes to inform and engage employees.
The campaign launched via an aggressive multi-pronged media effort. A national media tour offered interviews and program demonstrations with Baptiste, a physician specializing in MS and a TYSABRI patient. Additional activities included a special class led by Baptiste for long-lead women’s magazine editors, satellite media tour, and outreach to wire, print, broadcast and online influencers. MS-focused third-party organizations were provided with information to post to their websites and newsletters, and a digital press release promoted strong viral activity on social networking sites, blogs and patient communities.
MyMSYoga.com provided a clear call-to-action for visitors to gain more information about the program, disease management and branded treatment options. The site was designed to actively engage visitors; people could vote in a contest to bring MyMS Yoga to their local city, and were required to opt in and create a personal profile that was captured in the CRM database in order to receive the free DVD.
Momentum from the national launch was replicated regionally through key market media tours and MyMS Yoga classes in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Boston.
Evaluation of Success/Measurement
Bring TYSABRI efficacy to life in a highly visible way
·         Original coverage including two or more key messages was 97 percent; (goal: 85 percent)
·         Tonality was 99 percent positive (goal: 85 percent)
·         183 patients and 70 caregivers attended local events
·         Sales representatives reported MyMS Yoga materials facilitated conversations with health care providers who previously did not accept appointments
Secure campaign and brand coverage in traditional and social media channels to illustrate TYSABRI benefits
·         Overall message penetration of TYSABRI was 80 percent (goal: 75 percent)
·         Audience reach was nearly 360 million with 618 stories through national and local coverage via print, broadcast and online outlets, as well as social media
Increase enrollment in CRM database
·         More than 11,845 new registrations in CRM database
·         More than 14,077 DVDs ordered
·         DVD program orders directly correlate to measurable product starts resulting in a 3.3 to 1 net ROI ratio
The success of the MyMSYoga campaign has been so well received internally and externally that Biogen has provided additional funding support to continue the momentum throughout 2011.