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For what ails Super Bowl athletes? Former NFL player talks up a new long-lasting knee treatment

February 2, 2020, 11:00 PM UTC

In the week leading up to Super Bowl LIV, broadcasters, retired athletes, and, yes, retired athletes who are now broadcasters descended upon Miami for an annual spectacle called “Radio Row.” The event gives former pro athletes the chance to promote a wide range of products. As The Ringer dubbed it in a recent piece, Radio Row is the “sport world’s greatest native ad.”

“We end up serving as leaders in the space, we want to continue to stay in the game,” former NFL star Solomon Wilcots told Fortune.

The former free safety, who played in Super Bowl XXIII for the Cincinnati Bengals against the San Francisco 49ers, was in town to promote a drug that may be of particular interest to athletes sporting (or hiding) a limp: Flexion Therapeutics’ Zilretta.

Zilretta was approved in 2017 as the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) first cleared long-acting injection to treat osteoarthritis knee pain (a common injury among many athletes, especially football players).

Importantly, the medicine isn’t an opioid—it’s a long-acting formulation of corticosteroids that dispenses the active ingredients over the course of weeks or months instead of just days.

“Many who receive immediate release steroids are one and done; Our goal was for at least three months,” Mike Clayman, CEO of Flexion, told Fortune.

Flexion is hoping to expand its market reach for Zilretta in the coming years—including for non-athletes.

“We are just scratching the surface on the number of patients who could be benefiting from Zilretta,” said Clayman.

To that end, Flexion got some pretty bullish news at the end of 2019. The FDA swapped out language on Zilretta’s drug label that said the treatment wasn’t meant for repeated administration to a more mild warning.

Flexion stock is down 15% year-to-date but up 27.5% over the past 12 months.

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