Savion Johnson is a real 10-year-old boy with asthma. But he’s also the cartoon star of Meda Pharmaceuticals and the “Medikidz Explains Asthma” comic book series. The third book in the already successful series launched earlier this month, telling Savion’s story along with the story of asthma using precise clinical terms, but in a way that kids can understand and relate to.
“When we first learned about Medikidz … we thought this was an incredible opportunity to engage kids and help them better understand and manage their asthma so they are able to overcome the challenges associated with this chronic health condition,” said Stuart Loesch, Meda SVP of sales and marketing, in an email interview.
Medikidz, which began in the U.K. 8 years ago and came to the U.S. just over three years ago, started out with a U.K. pediatrician’s desire to explain diseases to kids in a fun and interesting way they could understand. Today, it has more than 150 different titles across a wide range of conditions.
Meda, along with its other pharma sponsors and endorsing partners, works with Medikidz to provide funding and also give some content input. While the books are written by Medikidz in-house by its all-physician team of writers, the company does work with partners on building storylines and ideas for the comic books, said Medikidz account manager Melissa Frascella. The books are free and distributed through pharma sales reps to healthcare providers as well as through Medikidz partner patient organizations, charities and academic group networks, she said.
The books are unbranded and serve as disease education for children, and they give healthcare providers “another tool to communicate and connect with their patients and families,” Loesch said.
“Asthma is a common respiratory condition that affects 6.8 million children in the U.S. alone. We are committed to changing the patient landscape to help those who live with this chronic illness achieve a better understanding of their health and how they can talk to their healthcare provider about treatment,” he said. “… Sponsoring the ‘Explain Asthma’ series helps us to further cement our commitment to respiratory innovation continuing our focus on allergy and asthma in the United States.”
Meda asthma treatments for kids include its inhaled corticosteroid Aerospan, which competes with similar drugs such as Teva’s ($TEVA) QVAR, GlaxoSmithKline’s ($GSK) Flovent and Merck’s ($MRK) Asmanex.