Pfizer UK has launched a digital campaign to raise awareness of generalised anxiety disorder.

The campaign comes in the form of a new video using ‘augmented reflection technology’ called ‘Let’s Talk about GAD’, which is essentially a video of people with the condition discussing their experiences.

Specifically, it looks at the reality of those living with excessive anxiety, which is leading to symptoms like restlessness, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension and sleep disturbance.

Pfizer’s drug Lyrica (pregabalin) has a European licence to treat GAD, as well as indications for neuropathic pain and epilepsy, and made the firm just over $3 billion in the past nine months, up 12% on this time last year.

The return on investment from disease awareness campaigns typically comes from an increase in scripts of drugs licenced for the condition, and it may be that this campaign could push up sales of Lyrica. 

The video was developed by Pfizer in partnership with Anxiety UK, a patient group focused on people with anxiety disorders.

The firm says that GAD is currently under-recognised in the UK, a fact that may be due to several factors; these include patients not telling their GP about their anxiety symptoms and when they do, patients are finding it difficult to describe their symptoms.

As a result, people with GAD typically have their symptoms for five to 10 years before appropriate diagnosis and treatment, Pfizer says, which can cause them considerable distress.

In Britain, Pfizer says that one in 20 adults is affected by the disorder and despite it being one of the most common mental health problems seen by GPs in the UK, two-thirds of patients remain undiagnosed, which may lead to delayed treatment.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, a GP and fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “Mental health conditions such as depression are more easily recognised and diagnosed by GPs compared to generalised anxiety disorder.

“But given that the number of people with anxiety disorders is projected to rise by 12.7% to 2.56 million by 2026, now is the time for action. ‘Let’s Talk about GAD’ raises awareness amongst people with symptoms, as well as their GPs so that during a consultation, GAD is identified, diagnosed and appropriately treated.

“Mental health problems are the largest cause of disability in the UK. Generalised Anxiety Disorder is a common and distressing condition which often leads to depression and other problems, but it is poorly understood by the general public and health professions. Raising awareness is vital to get people talking about - and subsequently dealing with - generalised anxiety disorder.”

The video can be viewed here: