GSK's Tesaro taps actor Scott Foley for ovarian cancer maintenance push

Actor Scott Foley is the latest spokesman in Tesaro's awareness campaign of ovarian cancer options. (Tesaro)

Actor Scott Foley’s mother died of ovarian cancer when he was 15. Not unlike most ovarian cancer patients, she had relapsed several times in the four years after she was first diagnosed.

Now Foley, who starred in TV shows “Scandal,” “Felicity” and is currently on ABC’s “Whiskey Cavalier,” is sharing his experience for the first time in a new public service announcement for GlaxoSmithKline oncology-focused business Tesaro's initiative to raise awareness of ovarian cancer maintenance treatment options.

The “Not on My Watch” effort began last October with a first PSA directed by actress and ovarian cancer survivor Cobie Smulders of "How I Met Your Mother" fame, who appears in that video and also directs three other women who talk about taking charge of managing their disease rather than just waiting for a recurrence.

In the new TV PSA, Foley addresses the camera directly, talking about his role as a secondary caregiver for his mother and the hopeful heartbreak of helping her through multiple recurrences, repeat chemotherapy treatments and only being able to watch and wait.

The TV and radio spots have been distributed to network and cable TV and radio, and they will also run on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and in digital banner placements. For every share the videos receive from the "Not on My Watch" website or social channels, Tesaro will donate $5 to ovarian cancer patient organizations with a minimum of $85,000 to honor the 85% of women who will face relapse and a maximum of $222,000 to recognize the 222,000 women now living with ovarian cancer.

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While the PSA is unbranded, Tesaro—which GlaxoSmithKline agreed to buy in December—has a vested interest in maintenance treatments for ovarian cancer. Its PARP inhibitor Zejula, approved in April 2017, can be used in chemo-treated patients with or without BRCA mutations for keeping ovarian cancer at bay.

Zejula sales for 2018 checked in at $230 million, GSK reported, which was in line with expectations. GSK is focused on building penetration in the class for 2019, it said.

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Statistically, four out of five women with ovarian cancer will see a return of the disease. Once it returns, it is considered incurable. The "Not on My Watch" effort is meant to empower women to take action instead of simply bearing the watch-and-wait stress. 

“For these women, that period of watching and waiting, as you can imagine, is often filled with a lot of anxiety and takes a significant toll on them and their care partners,” Kristin Ainsworth, Tesaro VP and president of corporate affairs, PR, advocacy and communications, said.