Launch and expansion of indicators for pulmonary fibrosis

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG

Orphan diseases like idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are rare illnesses. Conditions that are rare are also rarely seen and diagnosed. How can we not only increase the knowledge about the illness and treatment options in the target groups, but also provide direct support for diagnosis?

What was the customer briefing?

An illness is considered rare in the EU when fewer than five people per 10,000 suffer from it. An early and correct diagnosis is a common hurdle to the treatment of these so-called “orphan diseases”. The key to success is creating awareness of the respective illness and possible treatments, especially among experts.

On behalf of Boehringer Ingelheim, komm.passion has been supporting communication about a prescription medication for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis since 2014 – from the pre-launch phase to launch to the continuing creation of awareness of this rare respiratory disorder. Further support was provided with the preparation of expanded symptoms in order to include further groups of medical specialists.

The task: How can we not only increase the knowledge about the illness and treatment options in the target groups, but also provide direct support for diagnosis? The initial focus was directed toward communication with professionals in pneumatological, general medical, and pharmaceutical media, which later expanded in the direction of rheumatology and radiology.


How were the goals achieved?

In order to make the illness and its diagnosis come alive for medical professionals, komm.passion focused communication on a mix of classic trade-press tools and digital elements. A foundation of media contact work was already established in the pre-launch phase and afterwards continued intensely with regular mailings about new study data along with invitations to face-to-face and online symposia and conferences.

On the whole, Boehringer Ingelheim and komm.passion placed strong emphasis on digital communication. Journalists and professional groups took part in an international Tweet chat on the Boehringer Ingelheim Twitter account. An app was used to playfully teach users about the diagnostic clock or to quiz them on recognizing various respiratory disorders by auscultating, or listening through a stethoscope. Dr. Johannes Wimmer, well-known through both TV and print media, helped extend the campaign to include general practitioners. Every additional symptom received its own social media funnel developed on the basis of the new group of specialist physicians in order to tailor digital communication with these groups.

The outcome:

Both the individual press events and the digital materials enjoyed a positive reception among journalists and medical professionals. The campaign received broad coverage in the relevant specialist media. Even just a few months after launch, awareness of the campaign among pneumologists had already reached over 90%, and market leadership in Germany was achieved after only a year and a half. Working shoulder to shoulder with the Boehringer Ingelheim social media team, we also succeeded in strengthening and expanding the company’s role as a market leader in digital communications as well.