NBRPA, Sheryl Swoopes Team With Flexion For ZILRETTA Athlete Ambassadors Program

Flexion Therapeutics partners with the National Basketball Retired Players Association and Sheryl Swoopes to raise awareness of osteoarthritis knee pain. Photo credit NBAE/GETTY Images.

Flexion Therapeutics Inc. (FXLN) partnered with the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) earlier this week as a means to let those with osteoarthritis-related knee pain know that ZILRETTA (triamcinolone acetonide extended-release injectable suspension) is available as an increasingly popular treatment option due to its effectiveness for pain management. Sheryl Swoopes is truly a women’s basketball pioneer. She was the first player to be signed by the WNBA and is a member of the Hall of Fame. Swoopes is also the newest of the ZILRETTA Athlete Ambassadors to speak on behalf of the educational program as a patient, this time through a virtual video event. Swoopes chatted about osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, her athletic lifestyle and how it impacted her life, and she shared her ZILRETTA story as a new champion for pain management. The Sports Techie community blog does not endorse this product; however, I share this information in good faith that those followers and readers looking to try an alternative method for OA pain management needs after decades as former athletes and recreational activists, now you know about ZILRETTA, the injectable, non-opioid, steroid pain treatment.

WASHINGTON DC – JULY 15: Sheryl Swoopes #22 of the Houston Comets handles the ball during the WNBA All-Star game on July 15, 2002 at the MCI Center in Washington DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright WNBAE 2002 (Photo by Mitchell Layton/WNBAE/Getty Images)

ZILRETTA Athlete Ambassador

“We are excited to partner with the NBRPA to raise awareness of knee OA and ZILRETTA, and we are truly honored to be working with Sheryl, a world-class athlete who continues to exemplify greatness well after the height of her career,” said Michael Clayman, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Flexion. “As one of the most exceptional women athletes of all time, a hall of famer, and three-time Olympic gold medalist, Sheryl knows about pushing the limits physically, and we are very pleased that she has finally found the much-needed relief from her OA knee pain with ZILRETTA.”

Swoopes becomes the first WNBA hoops legend to take part in spreading awareness about the program. This smart marketing partnership with Swoopes by Flexion is similar in scope to the business, patient and advocate relationships with other ZILRETTA Athlete Ambassadors, such as NFL Hall of Famer Rod Woodson and 1980 USA hockey team captain and gold medal winner Mike Eruzione.

“The best partnerships are all about authenticity, and we found out through a survey of our membership that knee pain ranked among retired players’ top ailments following their careers,” said Scott Rochelle, NBRPA’s Executive Director. “There is no better, more engaged advocate for those suffering OA knee pain and no stronger advocate to speak to the benefits of ZILRETTA than Sheryl. We look forward to growing this relationship in the coming months to be one of our most inclusive and informative to date.”

Treatment for Swoops was led by Rabah Qadir, M.D., a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon at the Woodlands Sports Medicine Center and Chairman of Orthopedic Surgery at Memorial Hermann Woodlands Medical Center near Houston.

Dr. Qadir said, “While Sheryl has enjoyed the career of an elite athlete, unfortunately, her experience with OA knee pain is far from unique. Knee injuries, especially cartilage and meniscus injuries, are common for basketball players and can lead to OA over time. After evaluating Sheryl and understanding her desire to stay active with a non-surgical treatment plan, ZILRETTA was an obvious choice to offer Sheryl the extended pain relief she needed.”

ZILRETTA microspheres slowly and continuously release medicine into your knee for about 3 months.

Swoopes Hoops Bio

Swoopes represents the WNBA as the first player to be signed by Flexion. Her playing credentials include earning three WNBA MVP awards. She was listed as part of one of WNBS’s Top 15 Players of All Time at the leagues 2011 All-Star Game. Sheryl won three Olympic gold medals and as a result, is one of 10 women’s basketball players to have won an Olympic gold medal, an NCAA Championship and a WNBA title. Her election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame happened in 2016. Presently, she plays an active leadership role in the NBRPA. Her collegiate career at Texas Tech featured First Team All-America awards in 1992 and 1993, winning the Naismith College Player of the Year award, and as a senior, being named WBCA Player of the Year.

Swoopes commented, “I fully understand the way OA knee pain can impact your life in every aspect, not just physically but mentally. To be able to tell my story and share the results of what can be done with treatment with my colleagues, friends, former players and family is very important. This partnership will not only help many of the athletes who have played in the NBA and WNBA, but it will serve to raise awareness for thousands who may be suffering in silence.”


More than 1,000 former players from the NBA, ABA, WNBA and Harlem Globetrotters make up the NBRPA, making it the largest agency devoted to developing, implementing and advocating a variety of programs to benefit members, supporters and their community, of its kind in basketball. This allows them to leverage direct access to ex-players to meet demand for educating fellow members and their treating physicians. The NBRPA was founded in 1992 by basketball legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson.

Give Your Knee The Z
On October 6, 2017, ZILRETTA received approval by the U.S. FDA as the first and only extended-release intra-articular therapy for patients confronting OA-related knee pain. ZILRETTA uses proprietary microsphere technology that combines triamcinolone acetonide—a commonly administered, short-acting corticosteroid—with a poly lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) matrix to provide extended pain relief. The pivotal Phase 3 trial on which the approval of ZILRETTA was based showed that ZILRETTA significantly reduced OA knee pain for 12 weeks, with some people experiencing pain relief through Week 16. Learn more at www.zilretta.com.

Indication and Important Safety Information for ZILRETTA

Indication: ZILRETTA is indicated as an intra-articular injection for the management of OA pain of the knee.

Limitation of Use: The efficacy and safety of repeat administration of ZILRETTA have not been demonstrated.

Contraindication: ZILRETTA is contraindicated in patients who are hypersensitive to triamcinolone acetonide, corticosteroids or any components of the product.

Warnings and Precautions:

·       Intra-articular Use Only: ZILRETTA has not been evaluated and should not be administered by epidural, intrathecal, intravenous, intraocular, intramuscular, intradermal, or subcutaneous routes. Serious events have been reported with epidural and intrathecal administration of corticosteroids and none are approved for this use. ZILRETTA should not be considered safe for epidural or intrathecal administration.

·       Hypersensitivity Reactions: Rare instances of anaphylaxis, including serious cases, have occurred in patients with hypersensitivity to corticosteroids.

·       Joint Infection and Damage: A marked increase in pain accompanied by local swelling, restriction of joint motion, fever, and malaise are suggestive of septic arthritis. Examine joint fluid to exclude a septic process. If diagnosis is confirmed, institute appropriate antimicrobial therapy. Avoid injecting corticosteroids into a previously infected or unstable joint. Intra-articular administration may result in damage to joint tissues.

·       Increased Risk of Infections: Infection with any pathogen in any location of the body may be associated with corticosteroid use. Corticosteroids may increase the susceptibility to new infection and decrease resistance and the ability to localize infection.

·       Alterations in Endocrine Function: Corticosteroids can produce reversible hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis suppression, with potential for adrenal insufficiency after withdrawal of treatment, which may persist for months. In situations of stress during that period, institute corticosteroid replacement therapy.

·       Cardiovascular and Renal Effects: Corticosteroids can cause blood pressure elevation, salt and water retention, and increased potassium excretion. Monitor patients with congestive heart failure, hypertension, and renal insufficiency for edema, weight gain, and electrolyte imbalance. Dietary salt restriction and potassium supplementation may be needed.  

·       Increased Intraocular Pressure: Corticosteroid use may be associated with increased intraocular pressure. Monitor patients with elevated intraocular pressure for potential treatment adjustment.

·       Gastrointestinal Perforation: Corticosteroid administration may increase risk of gastrointestinal perforation in patients with certain GI disorders and fresh intestinal anastomoses. Avoid corticosteroids in these patients.

·       Alterations in Bone Density: Corticosteroids decrease bone formation and increase bone resorption. Special consideration should be given to patients with or at increased risk of osteoporosis prior to treatment.

·       Behavior and Mood Disturbances: Corticosteroids may cause adverse psychiatric reactions. Prior to treatment, special consideration should be given to patients with previous or current emotional instability or psychiatric illness. Advise patients to immediately report any behavior or mood disturbances.  

Adverse Reactions

The most commonly reported adverse reactions (incidence ≥1%) in clinical studies included sinusitis, cough, and contusions.

Visit ZilrettaLabel.com for full Prescribing Information.

Flexion Therapeutics (Nasdaq:FLXN) is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of novel, local therapies for the treatment of patients with musculoskeletal conditions, beginning with osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.

About Flexion Therapeutics

Flexion Therapeutics (Nasdaq:FLXN) is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of novel, local therapies for the treatment of patients with musculoskeletal conditions, beginning with osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. The Company’s core values are focus, ingenuity, tenacity, transparency and fun. Please visit flexiontherapeutics.com.

More information on how to find a treating physician can be found at https://www.getthez.com or by calling 888-600-GETZ (4389).

Sports Techie, I am 54-years young and have no need of ZILRETTA at the present moment, however, a lifetime of playing sport as a youth and teenager, including college lacrosse, as well as on men’s and coed football, basketball, softball and volleyball, recreational teams through my early forties, makes me concerned about the future of my knees. I’m also the parent to a 7-year old boy on the autism spectrum meaning lots of extra bending and lifting with my knees. Add in the fact that I have put on at least 25 pandemic lbs. and chances are good, OA may be in both knees or one knee, future.

I also come from a basketball crazy family. My Dad and Mom both played competitive ball all the way to the Michigan State Men’s Basketball team and the Ecuadorian Women’s National team, respectively. My two brothers and I played all sports growing up but concentrated on basketball heavily on the varsity, JV and the sophomore teams for me at Redmond High school. I once played Lisa Leslie in a game of one-on-one back in the day when I was an agent for a minute in LA. Leslie along with Swoopes and Rebecca Lobo were the face of the new league when it launched back on April 24, 1996. Sheryl and I are connected on LinkedIn. I’d sure like to play her to a game of 10. Sports is truly a connector, especially because of social media.

My 77-old dad is bone to bone with no cartilage left to speak of in both knees after years of playing basketball near Detroit as a kid wearing his Chuck Taylor shoes on the hot blacktops. He was latter a marathon runner. Just last year, Pops biked 4,000 around Boise, Idaho, all tracked on a fitness trainer. Needless to say, the first person I thought about regarding ZILRETTA and pain management was my Father and Kellan’s Grandpa. I told him I was publishing this blog tonight and if he was interested to let his doctor know about it just like any of you can too.

Pain management is a topic making the news because of the addictive nature of certain prescription drugs that led to massive opioid lawsuits causing a fundamental change in the way the medical profession and public at large, administer and use these highly addictive, prescribed pain management drugs.

Non-opioid ZILRETTA is made by a leading biopharmaceutical company with a focus on developing and commercializing novel and local therapies for the treatment of patients with musculoskeletal conditions, starting with osteoarthritis (OA), a type of degenerative arthritis.

Do not get a ZILRETTA injection if allergic to corticosteroids, triamcinolone acetonide, or any other component of the product. The benefits and risks of repeat injections have not been demonstrated. The possible side effects are listed at their web site.

OA is not an old person only affliction. Anybody with OA can learn more about the Z treatment at the company web sites.

Walking, swimming and sleeping are improved when OA is managed for pain. Putting the Z In Your Knee might be the solution you have been hoping for.

Hoop it up, again!

See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!

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