GSK launches prostate cancer awareness campaign

PHILADELPHIA: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) tapped tennis star John McEnroe as an ambassador for a prostate cancer awareness campaign that launched in late August.

PHILADELPHIA: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) tapped tennis star John McEnroe as an ambassador for a prostate cancer awareness campaign that launched in late August.

The “Get Serious About Prostate Cancer” effort aims to educate men about the new prostate cancer screening guidelines, said Robert Perry, senior manager for US product communications at GSK.

GSK hired McEnroe, whose father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, earlier this year as a prostate health ambassador, said Perry. He is working with campaign partners like Stand Up to Cancer, the American Urological Association Foundation, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the Prostate Conditions Education Council, and the Men's Health Network. 

“It's one of the first times, in this sort of public fashion, that these key advocacy groups have come together in one voice,” said Perry. "“That message is very timely again because there is a lot of noise out there right now about the appropriateness of the prostate test."

The American Urological Association announced in April that men should start having annual prostate cancer screenings at age 40, as opposed to previous recommendations of age 50. The pharmaceutical company sells Avodart, which is approved to treat enlarged prostates. A clinical trial said in April that the drug may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Following the August 27 launch, McEnroe made appearances on programs like Larry King Live, The Sean Hannity Show, and The Early Show on CBS.

GSK also launched a Web site that provides information about prostate screenings and directs users to the advocacy organizations it partnered with for the campaign. Perry said he could not disclose the campaign's budget but noted that GSK funded the campaign.

Taylor PR, which began working with GSK in 2008, is providing support.

The campaign is part of the pharmaceutical company's role as a founding corporate partner for Stand Up to Cancer, a year-old program created by the Entertainment Industry Foundation that aims to raise awareness about cancer, noted Perry.

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