J&J's Blue Jacket Fashion Show returns live to boost prostate cancer awareness

Ties are optional, but the blue jacket is required at the sixth annual Blue Jacket Fashion Show sponsored by J&J’s Janssen Oncology. The show is back live on the runway after last year’s virtual event.

The show, which follows New York Fashion Week, streams live, Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. ET and continues last year’s focus on the health disparity of the disease on Black men and benefits nonprofit advocacy group ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer. Janssen plans to match all donations up to $10,000.

While prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in American men, Black men are disproportionately affected. The diagnosis rate is 1.8 times higher for Black men, and, even more worryingly, they are 2.2 times more likely to die from the disease compared to their white counterparts. Education about screenings are paramount for this demographic.

So, how do you reach these men?

“Well, you start talking about it," Rodney Gillespie, vice president of sales and marketing at Janssen Oncology, said. “The Blue Jacket fashion show is a great way—we're bringing the world of fashion and entertainment and sports and healthcare to the forefront, and we're openly having a conversation about prostate cancer.”

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Taking to the runway this year is Al Roker, who publicly shared his own prostate cancer battle in 2020. He joins returning participants Mario Cantone, Eric West, Don Lemon, Dale Moss and Nigel Barker in specially designed blue jackets by designers and stylists including the Arjona Collection, Thom Browne, Michael Kors, Ben Sherman, Levi’s, Men’s Wearhouse, Stephen F, Bruno Magali, Carlos Campos and Tommy Hilfiger.

Gillespie says this group of men really resonates with the audience: “There's a connection, for the Black community. They can see it, they understand that and it has an impact on them. And so, you know, what we're wanting to do is improve the conversation, but we also want to make sure people are taking action and going for those PSA screening, so that's a lot of the work that we're doing around this initiative,” he said.

Like many other diseases, thanks to the pandemic there’s been 29% decline in prostate cancer screenings and a 23% decline in prostate cancer diagnoses compared to before the pandemic. Also like many other diseases, early detection is key to a good outcome.

Gillespie said Janssen is hoping for two very specific outcomes from the event.

“It's twofold. It's one to educate, educate, educate, right? So we're starting that conversation, and then it's to: Let's take action—go out and get your PSA screening. That's what we want, because it's critical. It's an important component to help us; and I say 'us’, because I'm I am a Black man, in particular, to learn more about prostate cancer, and, potentially, if we are diagnosed with it, to be diagnosed at a early stage, which has significantly better outcomes.”

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J&J’s prostate cancer business includes Erleada, approved in 2018, which is a follow-up to its earlier treatment Zytiga. J&J expects the drug—a once-daily oral androgen receptor inhibitor that works by blocking the effect of testosterone on prostate cancer cells—to reach blockbuster status by 2025. J&J also holds the commercial rights to GSK/Tesaro's Zejula in prostate cancer (with GSK keeping the rights for the drug outside of that indication).

Prostate cancer is hugely competitive and includes drugs such as Bayer and Orion’s Nubeqa and Pfizer and Astellas’ market leader Xtandi.