Bristol Myers Squibb, new to multiple sclerosis treatments with Zeposia, is launching a music therapy awareness campaign Tuesday—with the help of some star power.
Actor and Broadway star Ben Platt and his professional dancer sister-in-law Courtney Platt are heading BMS’ “MS in Harmony” effort to connect with patients.
Platt, perhaps best known for his role in the "Pitch Perfect" series of films, won a Tony Award in the title role in "Dear Evan Hansen" on Broadway, and currently stars in the Netflix series The Politician. Courtney, a finalist on the "So You Think You Can Dance" competition show in 2009, was diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2012 at age 23 after suffering symptoms during a U.S. tour with the show.
Bristol Myers found the two Platts after identifying music therapy as a way to support MS patients, beyond its newly approved drug. The company partnered with the American Music Therapy Association to create the campaign.
“The MS population takes a comprehensive approach in how they look to manage their disease," said Tina Deignan, senior VP and head of BMS’ immunology business in the U.S. "In addition to therapeutics and working with their physicians, they look at lifestyle, diet and other ways that help them treat the disease and maintain the lifestyle they had prior to their diagnosis."
“When you look at the emerging evidence around music therapy, it fits nicely because it has the potential benefit on body, on mind and on emotional impact,” she added.
In an introductory video on the MS in Harmony website, Ben Platt says teaming with BMS is a way for him to give back to Courtney and everyone living with MS.
The program is “a cool and very fun way for people with multiple sclerosis, and their loved ones, to explore the potential of music therapy in achieving harmony of the mind and body,” he says.
Both Platts are on a media tour Tuesday and will continue to support the campaign through digital and social media. Courtney begins with the #MSinHarmony social challenge on Instagram, asking people to dance and sing to their favorite song, post videos with the hashtag and challenge three others to do the same. Ben and Courtney will also be active on BMS’ Instagram channel MSinHarmony.
The Platts both participated in some of the therapy videos developed with the association. For instance, Courtney appears with certified music therapist Cindybet Perez in an active body meditation exercise, while Ben is in a video with therapist Betsy Hartman demonstrating vocal exercises that can strengthen speech.
Bristol Myers is working to establish itself in multiple sclerosis after its June approval for Zeposia. Entering an already crowded market, the company is partly counting on its price advantage—at $86,000 per year wholesale, it’s the lowest cost oral option on the market.
BMS is also leaning on trial results showing physical and cognitive gains over Biogen’s older drug Avonex, along with Zeposia’s advantage as the only drug in the S1P class, which includes Novartis’ Mayzent, that doesn't require genetic testing or cardiovascular monitoring after the first dose.