Joe and Jennifer Montana team up to quarterback Amgen’s new heart disease awareness campaign


Ready, set, bike. Amgen has recruited Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana for its new heart disease awareness campaign built around cycling. “Breakaway from Heart Disease” launched last week with Montana and his wife, Jennifer, in the saddle.

Montana was diagnosed more than 10 years ago with two heart disease risk factors--high cholesterol and high blood pressure--and his wife’s father died of a heart attack at age 60. The two joined the effort with Amgen “to help motivate people to find out more about their family’s history of heart disease and get active through cycling,” said Amgen spokeswoman Kristen Davis in an email interview. She noted more than 40% of American adults will have some form of cardiovascular disease by 2030.

The Breakaway from Heart Disease bike tour began Sunday with the Amgen Tour of California and will continue on its Heart Health Tour in bike races and spin events through the country. Schwinn Bicycles and the American Heart Association are also part of the effort.

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The campaign is multiyear, Davis said. Some components may change over time, but “Amgen is committed to helping improve heart health in America and will continue to dedicate resources toward that goal.”

The Montanas will participate in the Amgen tour with at least one stop to share their personal story; they, along with Schwinn and the AHA ,will also post messages on social media to promote the new effort.

This is the second breakaway-named marketing effort from Amgen; it already anchors “Breakaway from Cancer” launched in 2005 along with four cancer non-profit groups.

Amgen markets the cholesterol drug Repatha, which was approved in 2015 and recently won a patent court decision with Sanofi and Regeneron's PCSK9 drug Praluent. A highly anticipated launch, Repatha has been slow to gain steam, partly because payers have been reluctant to foot the bil; the drug's list price tops $14,000 per year. That may be changing, however: Cigna announced last week that it had struck a results-based reimbursement deal for Repatha and its rival drug from Sanofi and Regeneron, Praluent.

Meanwhile, Amgen's chronic heart failure drug, Corlanor, was also approved by the FDA last year. Analysts predict blockbuster sales for Repatha with peak annual estimated sales of $4 billion to $5 billion, while the more specialty-oriented Corlanor is projected to garner $300 million to $500 million annual peak sales, although some analysts have pushed even higher.

- here's the release

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