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Closing the treatment gap

Highlighting the implications of low-cholesterol levels

Published: 26 Sep 2011

Cardio disease

Research involving 22,000 patients highlighted the implications of low cholesterol levels.

Client: Merck & Co

Agency: Ruder Finn

Campaign: DYSIS – Closing the gap on lipid management

Timescale: March 2009 to August 2009

A quick look

The annual European Society of Cardiology Congress is the largest global cardiology meeting, attracting thousands of delegates and hundreds of journalists; the competition between pharmaceutical companies and their agencies to grab journalists’ attention is fierce. Working with strong epidemiological data and an innovative web survey of patients on cholesterol-lowering drugs, the press event Ruder Finn and Merck organised in 2009 was a big success with attending media.


Statins are one of the medical success stories of the 20th century, used by millions of people to lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce their risk of heart disease. But even when people take their statins diligently, not all patients reach cholesterol levels doctors associate with healthy hearts.

In an attempt to quantify how many people taking statins do not reach their cholesterol targets, Merck and Co commissioned the DYSlipidaemia International Study (DYSIS), an epidemiology investigation of more than 22,000 patients who had been on statin therapy for at least three months.

Merck, with a history of innovation in cardiovascular medicine, chose the European Society of Cardiology’s 2009 congress in Barcelona to launch DYSIS and asked Ruder Finn to conduct media activities to promote awareness of the results and its implication for patients.


The results of DYSIS showed that nearly half of all statin-treated patients did not meet their cholesterol targets – a striking fact in itself but Ruder Finn knew that to gain media interest at such a busy congress, the results needed a very human angle. To provide that, Ruder Finn commissioned an online survey of patients taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, which found that while most patients knew about good and bad cholesterol, the majority didn’t know how they could change them.

Using these strong data sets, Ruder Finn created a package of materials to support a press event held at the congress centre, which coincided with the announcement of DYSIS. This included a global release available at the press event and distribution over the wires, a glossy media guide to cardiovascular disease, fact sheets on heart disease, Merck’s drug Tredaptive and the Merck-sponsored trial HPS2-THRIVE.

Ruder Finn also worked with Merck and key thought leaders to develop the presentations for the press event, which was filmed and webcast shortly afterwards for media unable to attend.


  • 46 journalists from 12 countries attended the press event
  • The press release, including DYSIS data and results of the patient survey, had immediate pick up equating to more than 1.8 million media impressions in both trade and consumer outlets acrossthe globe
  • CVD media guide was positively received by journalists.

Client verdict

“The support of our global communications initiatives was outstanding. DYSIS had some nice early coverage and we continued to see positive coverage from longer-lead journals in the subsequent weeks.”

Tara Camp, Director, Global Communications at Merck

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