I have a keen interest in medical developments around curing or slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s. Sadly, my father died this year of complications from the disease, after an amazing, well-lived life. It’s articles like this one in The Telegraph that give me hope, providing a glimpse into the ground-breaking work being done to address the disease.
So it is with some satisfaction and relief to report that media attention continues to climb around Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Biogen’s Aducanumab — one of the most promising treatments the medical community has seen in nearly 25 years of clinical trials. Let’s take a look at the numbers behind the news.
Coverage around Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and drug treatments continues to build on strong trailing 12-month gains. As you can see from the media rating trend for Aducanumab, the level of interest before and during the initial clinical trials is gaining momentum.
However, coverage is strong in traditional media segments only, and very low in social and online channels. While Twitter coverage is up +30 points over the prior month, the entire online media group is well behind print, broadcast and regional publications. This might reflect online’s appeal to a younger and consumer-oriented audience, whereas Aducanumab’s stage is the medical research community and it addresses a disease in the elderly. One might also suspect Biogen’s naming of the drug has done little to keep it front-and-center outside the medical community.
Even while industry insiders point to weak clinical results that don’t necessarily correlate to reducing the progression of patients’ cognitive decline, the media continues to gush on the promise of this new drug, Media momentum remains strong , with the drug advancing +15 rating points to close September at 44.
Media attention on Alzheimer’s itself continues its strong rebound after a precarious decline over 2014/2015. Media coverage is up +1 point to a very strong 86 rating. More importantly, coverage has recovered +20% over the same period in 2015. Cumulative 12-month media mentions are very strong at 2.2 million with media value closing at $31 million for the same period. Alzheimer’s story lines are ranked #2 in the Seniors Issues & Trends sector and up +5 positions to #13 in the broad Conditions & Disease sector.
I’ve included Parkinson’s because it’s pulled into the broader coverage on dementia. Interestingly, the media rating curve on Parkinson’s did not go through the 2014/2015 trough experienced by Alzheimer’s. Data-driven pharma product/brand managers should be monitoring and driving media attention and story lines for the conditions their drugs treat. Are these conditions earning increased coverage, and if so, in which segments? Within the competitive media space for ink and bits, how are these diseases faring next to other conditions and diseases?
Parkinson’s continues to garner media attention, showing a gradual rating improvement over the preceding 4-year period. Only within the last 4 months has the disease seen some deterioration in media momentum. While its rating is off -4 points over the prior month, it’s strong across all media segments. Most of the September decline occurred within the consumer media segment (consumer-focused print publications) which declined -16 points over the prior month to close at 69. Major US metro papers also showed some softening, off -9 points from the prior period.
While it’s too late for my father to benefit from drugs like Aducanumab, there are millions suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s who could see their lives progress and end very differently from my father’s. My dad was an amazing engineer, one of the best tool designers, an Italian craftsman who knew the math and physics behind everything he worked on. I’m sure he’s looking over the shoulders of the many scientists and medical professionals who have devoted their entire lives to addressing this dreaded disease, hoping their efforts solve a medical puzzle that claimed his, his father’s, and his brothers’ lives.