Shannyn A. Smith
Associate Director, Bleeding Disorders, Hematology & Rare Disease Business Unit
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd
Bringing New Life to a Rare Disease Brand
In January 2018, Shannyn A. Smith assumed brand leadership of VONVENDI® [von Willebrand factor (recombinant)]. VONVENDI® was launched in the U.S. in 2016 as the first and only recombinant von Willebrand factor for the on-demand treatment of the rare bleeding disorder von Willebrand disease (VWD) in adult patients. Shannyn faced a challenge. Healthcare professionals (HCPs) were unfamiliar with VONVENDI® and were more used to the established VWF replacement therapies, and guidelines, which reinforced the status quo. VONVENDI® required a diligent approach to help capture HCP attention as an approved treatment option for appropriate patients in the category.
Since joining Takeda, Shannyn has revitalized the brand, leveraging FDA approval of the surgery indication in adults to relaunch VONVENDI® in April 2018. Prior to joining Takeda, Shannyn built a successful career on the agency side in NYC, partnering with pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients for more than 15 years and across a broad range of therapeutic categories, with a special focus on rare disease and oncology. For her role with Takeda, she returned to Cambridge—the city of her alma mater, Harvard University, where she earned a BA in biology cum laude.
Shannyn has been thoughtful, driven, confident, and effective in spearheading the relaunch of VONVENDI®. She launched two campaigns in less than one year. The first emphasized the expanded indication in perioperative management of bleeding in adults. The second was a full campaign highlighting both on-demand and surgery indications. Shannyn looked beyond the recombinant attribute and challenged convention with a creative campaign centering on the patient experience with VWD. With responsibilities for professional promotions, peer-to-peer, and digital, Shannyn was able to ensure campaign pull-through. Strong partnerships internally with cross-functional teams, the VONVENDI® field ambassador team, and Global commercial colleagues, as well as external agency partners, were critical to the momentum generated for the brand in 2018.
VONVENDI® sales have continued to perform well the last two years. While driving sales within the hematology business unit is a priority, the real proof of success has been the excitement of the field force for the brand, renewed interest of the clinical community, and outreach by patient advocacy groups seeking more information.