Paula Deen, who besides the butter industry will she be representing?

In one of the worst kept secrets and least shocking announcements ever, Paula Deen has confirmed she has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for several years.  In the news articles last week, Anthony Bourdain’s quote that “Paula Deen was the most dangerous woman in America” was particularly apt in context of he January issue of Health Affairs and the multi-factorial challenge that the country faces to address diabetes and obesity.

And now we learn that Novo Nordisk and the Victoza team have paired up with Paula.

I would say very well played by Novo Nordisk. Victoza is off to a strong start after two years on the market, already grabbing roughly 50% of the TRx share from  Byetta.  Paula plays to a broad audience and is very well known.  As Victoza and the GLP-1 class have a unique benefit of increased satiety typically leading to weight loss, it will be interesting to see how she and Victoza work this into a diabetes-living platform.  The platform is entitled “Diabetes in a New Light” .  It appears that the message is “you don’t have to change everything in your life to see a benefit”.

The timing of her announcement is interesting as well, post holidays when many patients are “starting the new year resolutions”  (why you are seeing  all of the gym membership commercials and specials).  Byetta is about to grab headlines in a few weeks with the POTENTIAL approval of their once weekly treatment offering.

I would also assume that Paula Deen did not come cheap to Novo Nordisk.  I don’t know the quotes for such an investment, but she is very high profile and a very recognizable name.  A few years ago, Byetta partnered with Delta Burke,  who was years past her prime.  The Byetta / Delta Burke association was appeared very “patient materials” focused, a more narrow utilization of a celebrity.  It appears that Novo Nordisk is going much broader with Paula Deen, we have to wonder if this will be paired to a  DTC campaign.

And not that I am a conspiracy theorist, but isn’t it interesting that a story was “leaked” last week to a pop-culture blog that Paula Deen was going to announce her diagnosis?  The rumors were incorrect that she would be pairing with Novartis, but not too far off in spelling from “Novo Nordisk.”  Makes me wonder if a PR person purposefully leaked the story, but didn’t know enough about the industry to get the name of the pharma correct?  It is fascinating to watch the life-cycle of a story play out in the internet age.

So, what can we guess about Paula Deen’s partnership.  A) Novo invested heavily B) This may be a signal they are seeing some sparks of utilization in the primary care world and this will help drive patients to ask the non-specialist about an injectable agent, c) Novo is playing to win.

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