Lift off! Celgene MS effort launches hot air balloon to highlight brain health

Celgene MS MindShift hot air balloon
A new Celgene campaign for multiple sclerosis includes a hot air balloon that will travel to events for the brain health awareness effort. (Celgene)

Celgene plans to lift the importance of brain health in multiple sclerosis—quite literally—with a new hot air balloon. The “Brain Bulb” launched its maiden voyage in July as part of the company's campaign to draw attention to brain issues in multiple sclerosis.

The MS MindShift initiative, created along with the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, looks to engage the MS community in a new conversation about brain health. And it's hoping to inspire MS patients to do what they can to keep their brains healthy as long as possible, said Sheri Lydick, U.S. sales and marketing lead for Celgene's MS candidate ozanimod.

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The balloon is lifting off as Celgene awaits FDA word on its MS candidate ozanimod, whose approval application the agency accepted in June. The campaign’s website covers the effects of MS on the brain—such as the types of brain lesions—and explores the ways sleep, diet and exercise can help preserve brain health.

“This initiative aims to help elevate the important topic of brain health which is not often discussed within the MS community,” a Lydick said in an email interview.

The MS MindShift campaign rolled out before World MS Day in May with the debut of its website and Facebook page. The Brain Bulb balloon, first launched at New Jersey’s Festival of Ballooning in July, will fly again at future educational events, she said.

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Celgene MS candidate ozanimod's filings were recently accepted by regulators in both the U.S. and Europe, a welcome turnaround for the company after it notched an FDA refuse-to-file notice and a request for more data last year. Bristol-Myers Squibb struck a deal to buy Celgene in January, with a majority of shareholders approving the $74 billion deal in April.