Incyte nets soccer legend Mia Hamm for a personal touch on GvHD awareness

Incyte has signed Mia Hamm, a former U.S. professional soccer player and two-time Olympic gold medalist, as its new spokeswoman on a deeply personal issue for the soccer star.

In a new YouTube video, “Your Fans Are With You,” Hamm talks about losing her brother Garrett in 1997 due to complications following a bone marrow transplant (BMT), a procedure undertaken in the hope it could cure his rare bone marrow disease.

These types of transplants come with a major risk factor in the form of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), a condition that occurs when the graft's immune cells attack the recipient's cells. It can be a difficult illness to deal with after such a serious procedure and, in some cases, proves fatal.

Hamm, who has been advocating about both BMT and GvHD for nearly 25 years, has now teamed up with Incyte. She returns to the “fans are with you” tagline as the mantra she used throughout her career as well as when remembering Garrett.

“Throughout my professional soccer career, my fans motivated me to fight my hardest, even in the toughest moments,” Hamm says in a statement on Incyte’s website.

“Similarly, my family was by my brother Garrett’s side after he got sick and as he prepared for his BMT. We, along with his friends and his healthcare team, were his fans—cheering him on and encouraging him to keep fighting.”

This theme is expanded in the new video, which sees Hamm talk about her fans’ support, her in the locker room and her fans traveling to the stadium. “Fans: They’re out there rooting for you, no matter what,” Hamm narrates in the video.

“[They are] giving you a reason to dig deeper than you thought you could. They can make a setback easier to deal with and a win even more sweet.”

Then, at the stadium, we see a major cacophony of fans and the entrance of not a soccer professional, but Rollin, a cancer patient who enters through the haze of smoke and the cheers of the crowd.

“The fans stood by [Rollin] through his cancer, his bone marrow transplant and are still by his side as he navigates [GvHD],” Hamm narrates. We see home videos of Rollin with his family as he talks about his journey as a patient.

We also see another cancer patient in Laureana. “You have to surround yourself with fans,” she says in the video while being cheered on by the crowd. “There were so many days when I didn’t think I could do it,” she reflects, as we see her in hospital getting treatment, including a very personal moment, when she is having her hair shaved off.

The video ends with a message: “Watch for symptoms. For your fans. For yourself.”

Incyte markets JAK inhibitor Jakafi for several GvHD indications, including the steroid-refractory acute form of the condition as well as chronic GvHD after failure of other drugs.

The company also has licenses in myelofibrosis and polycythemia and made $2.4 billion from the JAK inhibitor in 2022, up 13% on the previous year.

The video and accompanying website are set up as an awareness campaign, with no direct branding from Incyte or for Jakafi. The idea is, of course, to boost awareness of the condition in general in the hope that it will boost scripts for drugs like Jakafi.