Baseball great Griffey steps up to the plate for Bayer prostate cancer campaign

With brand-new hiked-up sales forecasts for its newest meds, Bayer is hoping for a home run from prostate cancer-fighter Xofigo--and it's counting on a former MLB great to help it get there.

In a push for September's Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Cincinnati Reds legend and prostate cancer survivor Ken Griffey Sr. is traveling the country with the German drugmaker as part of its "Men Who Speak Up" effort, speaking at 7 local events in 6 cities.

And everywhere Griffey Sr.--who has lost four uncles to the disease and recently learned of his brother's diagnosis--travels, "we see an immediate impact," Rose Talarico, Bayer's deputy directory of communications, told FiercePharmaMarketing via email.

"People start speaking up about their own experience with prostate cancer, a loved one’s experience, or they simply say thank you for the reminder to get checked,” she said.

And that’s the whole idea behind the "Men Who Speak Up" effort. It was initially sparked by research in 2014 that found that almost half (44%) of men with prostate cancer delayed seeing a doctor after symptoms developed. Bayer heard similar stories from physicians and patient groups, so it partnered with the International Prostate Cancer Coalition and commissioned Harris Poll to do its own study.

That global study found that while 99% of men living with prostate cancer had experienced symptoms, only 56% knew what they might mean. In the U.S. specifically, Harris found that 68% of the men sometimes ignored symptoms that might signal a worsening of the disease.

Since then, Bayer has been working to help men understand when it's important to talk to their doctors and seek treatment for prostate cancer symptoms. And Griffey Sr.--as well as his son, Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.--signed on to the cause in February of this year.

Meanwhile, Bayer is hoping its educational effort will also help grow sales of prostate cancer therapy Xofigo, one of 5 new meds anchoring its pharma growth strategy. Amid investor concerns that the company's recent $66 billion Monsanto ($MON) deal agreement would hinder pharma expansion, Bayer last week upped its Big 5 peak sales estimate to €10 billion; it now expects Xofigo, along with next-gen anticoagulant Xarelto, eye blockbuster Eylea, pulmonary arterial hypertension therapy Adempas and fellow cancer-fighter Stivarga to post average annual sales growth of about 6% by the end of 2018.

- read Bayer's release

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