Otsuka dives in with Olympic swimming gold medalist Missy Franklin for rare kidney disease campaign

Multiple Olympic gold medalist swimmer Missy Franklin is sharing a personal story about kidney disease as part of Otsuka’s new campaign.

The new campaign focuses on spreading awareness about autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), a rare genetic condition that causes cysts to form on the kidneys, eventually leading to a decline in kidney function, which in turns leads to the need for dialysis or a transplant.

Franklin, who made her Olympic debut in 2012 at the age of 17 and won four gold medals, retired in 2018. She is now speaking out about ADPKD, a condition her father was diagnosed with when she was young.  

This is a family story but a personal one too as, while rare, the child of a parent with ADPKD has a 50% chance of inheriting the condition.

“Our family rallied around my father's diagnosis, prompting important conversations about living with ADPKD,” said Franklin in a press release. “This condition, while seemingly invisible, is a shared story among hundreds of thousands of families nationwide.”

Otsuka and Franklin are raising awareness of the condition by zeroing in on boosting early detection, as the condition can progress quickly. 

They're also promoting “open and honest family conversations about health history,” namely about the increased risk children of ADPKD patients have of getting the disease themselves.

The third element is patient support, which Otsuka is promoting by launching a new website at for “comprehensive resources to help navigate their health journey.”

There is also a video of Franklin’s father talking in a raw and emotional way about how it was becoming “more and more likely” he wouldn’t see his grandchild graduate from kindergarten, as his condition was worsening so rapidly.

His kidneys had begun to fail, but in 2022 he had a successful transplant.

While no treatments are directly mentioned as part of the campaign, Otsuka has since 2018 marketed Jynarque in the U.S. as a treatment for ADPKD. This was the first drug treatment to slow kidney function decline in adults at risk of rapidly progressing ADPKD.

In Otsuka’s recent third-quarter financials (PDF), released at the end of October, the Japanese company noted that sales in the U.S. of its drug “increased significantly as a result of an increase in the number of prescriptions for ADPKD mainly due to continued efforts to raise awareness of the disease and provision of information about clinical data.” Sales for the quarter were up 32.9% year over year.