Taking a Swing at Multiple Myeloma: Amgen Partners with MLB Stars

What do Dave Winfield, Steve Garvey, and Don Baylor Jr. all have in common? Besides all being big names in major league baseball, each of the famous athletes is contributing to multiple myeloma research by partnering with Amgen. The campaign, known as Amgen’s Multiple Myeloma MVP, is intended to help patients and doctors, as well as publicize the companies multiple myeloma treatment. Keep reading to learn more, or follow the original story here for more information.

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that develops in plasma cells. These plasma cells (a type of white blood cell) are normally part of the infection-fighting immune response within the body. As a result of multiple myeloma, however, no room is left for healthy cells to develop. As multiple myeloma cells accumulate in the bone marrow, they produce abnormal antibodies called M proteins.

Symptoms of multiple myeloma may include bone pain, kidney problems, low blood count, and frequent infections. Current treatment options for multiple myeloma focus either on controlling or killing myeloma cells, or treating the symptoms caused by the cancer. Drug types include proteasome inhibitors, chemotherapy, HDAC inhibitors, steroids, and immunomodulatory drugs.

Click here to learn more about multiple myeloma.

All-Star Lineup

A number of retired major league baseballs players are backing the Amgen sponsored multiple myeloma campaign this summer. Among those are Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, 10-time All-Star Steve Garvey, and Don Baylor Jr. For Baylor, the campaign is especially personal. His father, All-Star player Don Baylor, passed away last year as a result of multiple myeloma.

Ads for the campaign currently air on the MLB network. During the ads, the group of MLB stars stand inside an empty stadium. Winfield points out to the empty seats, nearly 30,000. These, the advertisement explains, represent the number of people in the US diagnosed with multiple myeloma each year.

The Pitch

Myeloma MVP is a program intended to create relationship between patients and doctors. The goal is that, through the program, patients will be able to set treatment goals with their physicians. Experts and executives at Amgen report that there has been an observable disconnect between patient priorities, and treatment plans. The overall patient experience, said one spokesperson for Amgen, is very important to the company. This was the impetus for the MVP program.

The issues surrounding multiple myeloma are also close to the baseball community. Several notable athletes and staff have been affected by the disease. Players and coaches like Don Baylor Sr, Mel Stottlemyre, and Lou Brock have all struggled with multiple myeloma.

The other side of the campaign involves Amgen’s own horse in the race. Amgen produces and markets a therapy for multiple myeloma known as Kyprolis. The drug, as of yet, has not sold as well as predicted. A recent change in its label, however, and research suggesting that it works better in combination with other drugs, has given it a boost. The MVP campaign is likely to have a similar positive effect.

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