Xtandi marketer Astellas scrums with rugby partners for prostate cancer awareness

Astellas is really sold on rugby. Already a sponsor of USA Rugby, the Japanese drugmaker is partnering with both USA Rugby and the Australia Rugby Union for a new prostate cancer campaign. Though it's an unbranded push, the "Pass4Prostate" promotion fits right in with Astellas' stepped-up marketing of Xtandi, the prostate cancer med now approved for previously untreated patients.

The Pass4Prostate challenge asks social media users to post a video of themselves catching something--defined as "any safe, inanimate object"--tossed from off-screen and then passing it off-screen "rugby-style" to the person they're challenging. The campaign will run through August, leading up to the international match between USA Men's Eagles and Australia's Qantas Wallabies on Sept. 5 in Chicago. Astellas is the title sponsor of the match.

For every legit post on Twitter ($TWTR), Facebook ($FB) or Instagram, Astellas will donate $5 to one of four prostate cancer charities, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Australian Prostate Cancer Research, Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia and Prostate Cancer Canada. The groups could collect up to $125,000 total.

Astellas first hooked up with USA Rugby last fall as healthcare sponsor of the USA Men's Eagles team match against New Zealand's famed All Blacks rugby team at Soldier Field in Chicago, which drew a sellout crowd of 61,500. Astellas partnered with Men's Health Network to offer free health screenings for hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and prostate cancer risk on match day, as well as the week before outside the Eagles' training complex.

Astellas Pharma US president Jim Robinson

"After the success we saw with last year's public health campaign around the All Blacks match, we knew we had found a winning way to engage consumers with a message about the importance of owning one's health," said Jim Robinson, president of Astellas Pharma US, in a release. "As the title sponsor of this year's match against Australia, we now have an even bigger platform--and a bigger responsibility--to increase awareness for a critically important health issue, prostate cancer, and raise funding for prostate cancer research."

Xtandi, sold in partnership with Medivation, was approved for pre-chemo treatment last year and goes head-to-head with Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Zytiga. The overall prostate cancer marketplace is heating up with competition, including Bayer HealthCare's Xofigo and Dendreon's Provenge, recently bought out of bankruptcy by Valeant Pharmaceuticals ($VRX). Not surprisingly, an increase in market size is also expected, with Decision Resources estimating the market will double from $4.4 billion in 2013 to $9.3 billion by 2023.

- read the news announcement
- see the promotion details

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