03 November 2008

David Garrard: Friend or Foe?

David Garrard, quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, has recently begun appearing in a television commercial for Centocor.  Centocor is a medication used to treat Crohn's disease, the chronic digestive disorder from which yours truly (among others) suffers.  In the commercial, a smiling Garrard is seen on a bright, sunny day tossing the pigskin on the gridiron with his teammates.  In a voiceover, he informs us that Crohn's disease has not stopped his pursuit of living his dream as a professional athlete.  The commercial directs us to websites for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, as well as for Centocor.

As a Crohnie, I have very mixed feelings about this commercial.  On the one hand, it is certainly encouraging that Garrard can continue to play ball competitively with Crohn's.  I maintain a MySpace profile dedicated to meeting Crohnies and discussing our shared experiences, and I frequently do the same on WeAreCrohns.org (a social networking website dedicated to Crohn's and colitis patients).  What Garrard does is shine a beacon of hope for all of us.  I mean, there was never any danger of me going pro, but others out there who have that dream will certainly be encouraged to believe they can still realize it.

On the other hand, the single most frustrating part of having Crohn's disease is the lack of understanding about it.  Treatment options are quite limited, because medical science does not currently know enough about what causes Crohn's to know what to do about it.  The general public's knowledge about Crohn's is practically nonexistant.  I fear that Joe Six Pack's entire understanding of Crohn's will be like his understanding of most things--entirely informed by television.  He will get the idea that Crohn's disease is as easily treated as, say, "restless leg syndrome," and that those of us who aren't playing ball are whiners.

I think Garrard's message is well-intentioned, and is powerful for Crohnies.  I also think it has the potential to really complicate matters for the rest of us as we try to connect with a normal, healthy lifestyle.  It's hard enough for many of us to find teachers and bosses who tolerate our condition and its impact on our reliability to be somewhere on time, to stay the duration and to be productive the entire time.  It won't get any easier now that their perception of Crohn's is that it's quickly and easily controlled by a pill.

7 comments:

  1. Have you tried it? Maybe you could get a free sample or two?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dude, I found this for you. Check it out:

    http://livingwithcrohnsdisease.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Have I tried what? Centocor's product? That would be Remicade. You may recall discussing the cost issue. Simply put, uninsured people are second-class patients and do not have the access to treatment options open to people who can afford them.

    If I can finagle my way into Johnson & Johnson's poor patient giveaway program (not that that's what they call it, so far as I know), I may be looking to begin Remicade treatments within a few months.

    Something else that the commercial does not explore is that while Remicade has generally produced favorable results, it does not work for all patients. Patients for whom the medication does work cannot count on it working forever, either; many reach a point where it becomes ineffective. At that point, it will never work for them again because of physiological reasons.

    In fact, if you read one of the posts on the blog you directed me to, you'll see a report dated 8 October from Centocor. Their research shows that "at week 26, 57 per cent of patients receiving Remicade combination treatment and 44 per cent receiving it as a monotherapy achieved steroid-free remission...compared with...31 per cent...receiving azathioprine alone." That's barely half after six months. Crohn's disease is lifelong, and batting .500 in less than a year is supposed to be encouraging?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi,

    I read with interest your blog about David Garrard and wanted to provide you with some additional perspective. Centocor is a biotech company that is involved in the research, development and marketing of prescription therapies for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, including Crohn's disease. We have partnered with Mr. Garrard in an effort to raise awareness about a disease that has personally affected him and that he is passionate about, particularly when it comes to educating others about the impact that Crohn's disease has on the approximately half a million Americans living with the condition. We certaintly do not disagree that there are many misconceptions and misunderstandings about Crohn’s disease and it is for this reason that we have undertaken this initiative/effort with Mr. Garrard.

    Thank you for your post and for your commitment to raising awareness about Crohn's disease.

    Very best,

    Brian Kenney

    Centocor, Inc.

    Corporate Communications

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi,

    I read with interest your blog about David Garrard and wanted to provide you with some additional perspective. Centocor is a biotech company that is involved in the research, development and marketing of prescription therapies for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, including Crohn's disease. We have partnered with Mr. Garrard in an effort to raise awareness about a disease that has personally affected him and that he is passionate about, particularly when it comes to educating others about the impact that Crohn's disease has on the approximately half a million Americans living with the condition.

    We certaintly do not disagree that there are many misconceptions and misunderstandings about Crohn’s disease and it is for this reason that we have undertaken this initiative/effort with Mr. Garrard.

    Thank you for your post and for your commitment to raising awareness about Crohn's disease.

    Very best,

    Brian

    Brian Kenney
    Centocor, Inc.
    Corporate Communications

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow! Not only have I received feedback, but I've just gotten my first-ever piece of feedback that hasn't come from someone I actually know. And this is from a representative of Centocor, to boot! I feel like I've hit the big time.

    I stand by my misgivings about the commercial's effect on the public's perception of life with Crohn's. I also stand by my earlier statement that I sincerely believe the commercial's intent was to benefit us Crohnies. I thank Centocor for its work to date on behalf of understanding and treating Crohn's disease--past, present and future.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi,

    I read with interest your blog about David Garrard and wanted to provide you with some additional perspective. Centocor is a biotech company that is involved in the research, development and marketing of prescription therapies for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, including Crohn's disease. We have partnered with Mr. Garrard in an effort to raise awareness about a disease that has personally affected him and that he is passionate about, particularly when it comes to educating others about the impact that Crohn's disease has on the approximately half a million Americans living with the condition.

    We certaintly do not disagree that there are many misconceptions and misunderstandings about Crohn’s disease and it is for this reason that we have undertaken this initiative/effort with Mr. Garrard.

    Thank you for your post and for your commitment to raising awareness about Crohn's disease.

    Very best,

    Brian

    Brian Kenney
    Centocor, Inc.
    Corporate Communications

    ReplyDelete