Novo Nordisk teams with 'Black-ish' star Anthony Anderson for small-screen diabetes diagnosis

Actor Anthony Anderson is a comedian, but when it comes to diabetes, he is a serious advocate. He's partnered with Novo Nordisk to create the “Get Real About Diabetes” disease awareness campaign, and as part of that effort he wrote a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis episode into the plot of his hit comedy series “Black-ish.”

The Dec. 12 episode, "Sugar Daddy," featured Anderson’s character, Andre Johnson, getting diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, along with the fear and uncertainty that goes with it. Anderson had been writing in references to the possibility of Johnson's diabetes for some time, but as part of his more engaged advocacy, Anderson felt that the time had come for a real diagnosis. The opening sequence of the show is an illustrated walk-through talking about how and why diabetes affects African Americans more often than others. Anderson was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 17 years ago.

“I’ve been vocal about my story in dealing with this disease both publicly and privately. Now that I have this platform of ‘Black-ish’ on ABC, and as we’re telling our personal stories on our show every week, I felt it important that I use this platform to talk about this disease and how it’s affecting me and our community, and the community at large,” Anderson said in an interview with FiercePharmaMarketing.

RELATED: Novo wins FDA blessing for Ozempic, a weekly diabetes drug carrying big expectations

He sought out a partnership with Novo Nordisk for the "Get Real" campaign and the storyline, which he calls a first of its kind with an actor and TV character sharing a real-life disease.

“Every African-American born in 2000 had a close to 50% chance of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes by the age of 20,” Anderson said, citing research published in JAMA. “That is why it hits home with me. In our community, there is a national take-a-loved-one-to-the-doctor day. There should never be something we celebrate in any community called national take-a-loved-one-to-the-doctor day. … I really want to bring this to the forefront in the African-American community in terms of this disease.”

His character’s storyline around diabetes will continue to evolve and be part of the show with additional messaging to come, he said. The comedy angle is important because “it disarms people” and helps get them talking about the character and how he’s dealing with diabetes, and relate it to themselves.

RELATED: Heart disease tears couples apart in Novo Nordisk's new awareness ads

The "Get Real About Diabetes" marketing campaign began in November and includes a website and Facebook page with educational information and tools, such as a free coaching program from Novo Nordisk.

David Moore, Novo Nordisk senior vice president, commercial, said in an email interview that Anderson is a "recognizable individual who can speak authentically to living with Type 2 diabetes and the importance of getting real with your disease, your lifestyle, your family and friends. His passion and Novo Nordisk’s expertise and resources will allow us, we hope, to make a real difference in motivating people, especially those in an underdiagnosed community. As an African American with Type 2 diabetes, Anthony is the perfect fit to appeal to large target audience within the diabetes community.”