Creating impact in the lives of Type 2 Diabetes patients


Lifting the Weight Off of Type 2 Diabetes Patients

Going beyond physical symptoms and exposing the painful truths behind Type 2 Diabetes, we helped AstraZeneca explore a solution which unlocked innovation and investment in a promising new medicine.


Experts in biopharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca needed to uncover human insights to understand the complex issue of weight control in Type 2 Diabetes before embarking on a 10 year-long drug development program. ?What If! set out on an insight hunt to help AstraZeneca identify the real need and ideal design for their new drug, Byetta – an injectable blood-sugar regulator.


A 360° immersion into the lives of persons dealing with T2D revealed the existence of a vicious cycle around weight control. Patients were expected to fight a losing battle against their weight while practitioners looked on helplessly. The result was a patient-practitioner relationship poisoned by feelings of defensiveness and frustration.

These findings made a bullet-proof case for AstraZeneca’s drug Byetta, which could aid in weight loss. It would equip practitioners with a practical solution and unburden patients from the pressure to achieve the impossible. Enthusiasm for Byetta was so strong it overcame the usual fears surrounding injections. This told us that, were it made available in pill format, it would be virtually unstoppable.


Convinced by our findings, AstraZeneca entered a $1 billion agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb to co-develop two pills that could potentially deliver this benefit. The announcement led to a 1.5% increase in AstraZeneca’s share price.

Intangible and yet invaluable, our hunch is that the excitement we felt when presenting Byetta to patients and practitioners was a strong signal that AstraZeneca is on its way to solving a real human need.