AstraZeneca tees up PGA champ Day to push biomarker testing in lung cancer

AstraZeneca's latest oncology push is a marketing effort with PGA Tour star Jason Day to raise awareness of biomarker testing. (AstraZeneca)

AstraZeneca and pro golfer Jason Day are on a mission to encourage biomarker testing for lung cancer. For Day, the awareness campaign is personal—he found out two years ago that his mother had stage IV lung cancer.

His mom, Dening Day, had biomarker testing and, as she and her son note on the campaign website, it changed her lung cancer fight. Doctors found her cancer had a mutation that meant she was eligible for targeted oral therapy.

“Biomarker testing is what really changed my mum’s outcome with regards to fighting this cancer. Huge for us to understand what type of cancer you have and what type of plan going forward will be best for you,” Day says in one video with his mother.

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Day and his mom are now leading the new “Test it Back” effort for AstraZeneca. The digital campaign includes a website and social media on Day and AstraZeneca channels, including a post featuring Day with the headline “Lung Cancer Will Test You. Test it Back.” AstraZeneca’s EGFR inhibitor Tagrisso—approved to treat metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with that mutation—is now the top-selling drug across the British pharma. In the first quarter, it passed up asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder med Symbicort, rising 86% year over year to land at $630 million for the period.

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When asked whether Day’s mother used an AstraZeneca treatment, a AZ spokesperson said via email that it doesn’t disclose specific patient diagnoses or treatment plans. The awareness effort is about “ensuring that complete biomarker testing becomes the standard of care at every lung cancer diagnosis.” 

Oncology is a key growth area for AstraZeneca, focused on lung, ovarian, breast and blood cancers, which expects at least six new cancer drug launches between 2014 and 2020. AstraZeneca’s portfolio includes PARP inhibitor Lynparza to treat ovarian and breast cancers, PD-L1 med Imfinzi for NSCLC and BTK inhibitor Calquence, now approved to treat mantle cell lymphoma, but closing in on a new indication in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.