J&J kicks off prostate cancer health disparities campaign with pro football Hall-of-Famer Shannon Sharpe

Johnson & Johnson is teaming up with Shannon Sharpe, Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end and co-host of Fox Sports' “Undisputed,” in a new education campaign aimed at getting more Black men diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer.

The U.S. pharma giant, which sells major prostate cancer drugs like Erleada and Zytiga, is launching “Talk That Talk.” The campaign is a “call to action” designed to drive prostate cancer awareness and reinforce the importance of screening for early detection among Black men, the company noted in a press release. This group has the highest death rate for prostate cancer in the U.S., two times higher than most other men.

The COVID pandemic also hit diagnosis rates, as men stayed away from their doctors’ offices during lockdowns. In fact, there was a 29% decline in prostate cancer screenings and a 23% decline in prostate cancer diagnoses compared to before the pandemic, J&J said in the release. And, like many other diseases, early detection is key to a good outcome.

J&J is creating a new educational website and tapping social media channels Facebook and Instagram for Talk That Talk, all of which is aimed specifically at Black men to learn about prostate cancer, share resources and take steps to live healthier lives.

“The ultimate goal is to encourage and elevate the importance of consistent prostate cancer screenings to help reduce longstanding healthcare disparities in prostate cancer, including late-stage diagnoses and shorter life expectancies,” J&J said in the release.

To help spread that message, J&J is working with Sharpe to bring together leaders of Black communities, Black health organizations and a team of diverse people to “ensure Talk That Talk authentically portrays the richness of the Black experience and help save the lives of Black men,” J&J added.

“Too many families are losing their brothers, their fathers, their uncles, their grandfathers—pillars of our homes—to the disease,” Sharpe said.

“Talk That Talk is an incredible opportunity to help save lives by getting more people to have these crucial conversations with each other and our doctors no matter how difficult it is. I've been so blessed many times over in life—with my career and my family—and I want to use it to help save lives.”

J&J has a long campaign history of elevating the need for better diagnosis among Black men. For the past six years, it has sponsored the Blue Jacket Fashion Show, which this year followed New York Fashion Week in February. For the past two years, the show’s focus has been on the health disparity of the disease on Black men.

J&J's prostate cancer business includes Erleada, approved in 2018, which made $1.3 billion last year. It is a follow-up to Zytiga, which made $2.3 billion in 2021. The Big Pharma also commercial rights to GSK-Tesaro's late-stage niraparib (sold as Zejula in the U.S. for certain cancers) in prostate cancer, while GSK keeps the rights for the drug outside that indication.

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