NEW YORK, April 22,
2002 - In his work as an advocate for cancer education,
actor Rob Lowe has seen the hardship faced by people going through
chemotherapy. But these difficulties really hit home when his father,
Chuck, developed a serious infection brought on by chemotherapy.
"It was really scary for us,"said Rob. "Although
chemotherapy was the miracle that ultimately saved my father´s life,
there was a side effect that we were unprepared for."
The Lowes are not alone in this experience.
For nearly half of newly diagnosed patients, cancer is no longer
a deadly disease. This is due in large part to chemotherapy. However,
most cancer patients do not know that while chemotherapy destroys
their harmful cancer cells, it also destroys their healthy infection-fighting
white blood cells, making them vulnerable to infections which may
be life-threatening. Infection is one of the most serious side effects
of chemotherapy, but is often not discussed with patients. Only
one in ten patients receives proactive protection from infection.
Instead, most doctors tend to treat these infections only after
they occur. There are ways to reduce the risk of infection, but
most patients are unaware of treatment options.
Infections during chemotherapy are dangerous
because they can force patients to stop their cancer treatment,
potentially jeopardizing their chances for success; they can land
patients in the hospital which places them at unnecessary risk and
discomfort, close to others who carry infection, and away from the
support and love of families and friends; hospitalization is costly
and very disruptive to cancer patients because today most cancer
patients are not hospitalized for cancer therapy. Additionally,
even simple infections like bronchitis can become life- threatening.
Studies have shown that 30 to 40 percent of patients who are not
protected from infection and who are getting certain types of chemotherapy
end up developing infections.
"Infection forced my dad to stop his chemotherapy.
When he was told that his treatment had to be stopped, he didn´t
know it was because of infection. He thought it was because the
chemo wasn´t working and the cancer was winning," said Rob. "Most
cancer patients know about hair loss and nausea, but I want to educate
patients about the risk of infection so they don´t have to go through
what my dad did."
Rob has joined forces with biotechnology company
Amgen to launch By My Side(TM): Taking Charge of Cancer Treatment,
a multi-media education program to raise awareness about infections
and other chemotherapy side effects.
By My Side offers a wealth of free information
on the "visible" side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and
hair loss, the "hidden" side effects, such as infection and emotional
duress, and provides tips on preventing or managing them. The information
is available in a booklet and video by calling toll-free 866-BY-MY-SIDE
(866-296-9743) or by accessing www.ByMySide.com.
Future program offerings will include an interactive Web-based mentoring
"Patients and their caregivers or families
need to ask their doctors for protection from infection right at
the very start of their chemotherapy or if they are already going
through treatment," said Rob.
The FDA recently approved a new prescription
medicine from Amgen called Neulasta(TM) (pegfilgrastim), which
boosts the body´s own natural infection-fighting white blood cells
to help protect patients against infections. It is available for
cancer patients for the first time this month.
"There was very little information and nothing
available medically to keep my dad from getting an infection when
he was going through chemotherapy," said Rob. "Now cancer patients
have access to knowledge about chemotherapy side effects and new
medical advances like Neulasta to overcome them."
In 1999, Rob became the first male spokesperson
for breast cancer awareness, spearheading a fundraising drive that
generated over $7 million to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Recently, Rob received the 2002 "Tribute to the Human Spirit" award
from cancer advocacy organization, The Wellness Community, for his
contributions to educate and inspire cancer patients and their families.
Rob´s passion for raising awareness about the
plight of cancer patients is so strong it has even found its way
into a recent episode of "The West Wing," where Rob plays deputy
communications director, Sam Seaborn. In the episode, Seaborn writes
a heartfelt addition to President Bartlett´s State of the Union
address announcing a goal for the country to cure cancer in the
Rob has received an Emmy nomination, two Golden
Globe nominations and has won the Screen Actor´s Guild´s Best Ensemble
award two years in a row. He made his movie debut in 1983 in Francis
Ford Coppola´s "The Outsiders." He has starred in numerous movies
including "St. Elmo´s Fire," "About Last Night," "Bad Influence,"
"Wayne´s World," "Tommy Boy" and "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged
Me." He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons.
Neulasta is prescribed to reduce the risk of
infection (initially marked by fever) in patients with some tumors
receiving chemotherapy that may decrease the number of infection-fighting
white blood cells.
Neulasta is safe and well-tolerated. In clinical
studies, the most common adverse event attributed to Neulasta therapy
following combination chemotherapy in patients (n=465) with lymphoma
and solid tumors was bone pain reported in 26 percent of patients.
In most cases, bone pain was controlled with non-narcotic analgesics.
The most serious adverse event not attributed to the underlying
disease or chemotherapy was a single case of low oxygen in the blood.
While not reported in patients receiving Neulasta, rare events of
adult respiratory distress syndrome, splenic rupture, and sickle
cell crisis have been reported in patients receiving the parent
compound, NEUPOGEN(R) (Filgrastim).
Amgen is a global biotechnology company that
discovers, develops, manufactures and markets important human therapeutics
based on advances in cellular and molecular biology.
# # #
Contact: Amgen, Thousand Oaks
Rebecca Hamm, 805/447-3872
Chandler Chicco Agency
Beth Keshishian, 212/229-8470
Alison Aromando, 212/229-8413
Anyone can call 866-BY-MY-SIDE (866-296-9743) or access
for free information and materials.
Pictures of Rob and his Dad are available by calling Rebecca
An electronic version of this news release may be accessed
The Neulasta(TM) prescribing information is available at http://www.NEULASTA.com
or via fax by calling 800-772-6436.
Consumers can call 866-611-DRUG (3784) or access http://www.NEULASTA.com
for more information about Neulasta.