Two years ago, Queen Latifah’s mother died of systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease. This week the well-known rapper, actress and producer joins the Boehringer Ingelheim “More than Scleroderma” campaign as spokesperson.
Latifah appears in a video on the campaign website talking about her mother’s diagnosis and care. Her cousin, Kristina, who served as caregiver to Latifah's mother, Rita, also talks about “Team Rita” and the importance of a care team and support.
In the video, Latifah says she’s involved in the campaign to raise awareness about scleroderma and let patients and caregivers know they’re not alone.
“There’s information out there that you can get that can hopefully make your journey with it a little less challenging,” she said, adding that her mother, who was a teacher, always did "anything she could do to help someone else have an easier journey."
Scleroderma is a rare disease that causes tissue throughout the body to thicken and scar. One of the most common forms of the disease affecting the lungs is interstitial lung disease (ILD), which causes lung tissue to thicken and become stiff.
After Latifah's mother died, Boehringer reached out to hear her story. As Al Masucci, VP of Boehringer's ILD business, said, they “immediately realized what an incredible spokesperson she would be to connect with patients and their families.”
Latifah will also share her family’s story on her social media channels, as will Boehringer on its U.S. social network. The umbrella “More than Scleroderma” campaign began in 2017 with a focus on patient stories, caregivers and resources.
“It is encouraging to see patients and their loved ones feel empowered to share their stories,” Masucci said, in an email interview. “With Queen Latifah, the impact is far greater, and we look forward to reaching people nationwide with the message that there is information and resources out there that can help.”
He said it's especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic to rally behind rare disease patients and families who may be feeling isolated.
Boehringer's pulmonary fibrosis drug Ofev recently added an FDA nod to treat a range of chronic ILDs. Ofev’s first indication was for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in 2014. The brand works with former New York Yankees star Bernie Williams on the unbranded “Breathless” campaign to raise awareness of that diagnosis.