Arbor Pharmaceuticals Teams Up with Shaquille O’Neal to Help African Americans ‘Get Real’ About Heart Failure

Partnership to raise awareness of the increased burden of heart failure in African Americans and shed light on approaches to managing the unique challenges facing this patient community

Atlanta, GA – March 14, 2019 – Arbor Pharmaceuticals, LLC, a U.S.-based specialty pharmaceutical company, today announced the launch of the Shaquille Gets Real About Heart Failure campaign, a national educational initiative designed to raise awareness around the heart failure disparity in the African American community and ways to manage this condition. Though he does not have heart failure himself, Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq), recognized around the world as a Basketball Hall of Famer, is partnering with Arbor Pharmaceuticals to help spread the word that every African American needs to take this disease seriously.

Heart failure is a chronic and progressive condition where the heart weakens, causing the heart to pump less efficiently. Over time, the heart can no longer keep up with what the body needs.1 Studies have shown that African Americans are 20 times more likely than other ethnic groups to develop heart failure before the age of 50,2 and they are more likely to be hospitalized or die from heart failure than white Americans.3,4

“Even though I don’t suffer from heart failure, when I found out about this disparity, I knew I had to get involved and help educate my community about the burden of heart failure for African Americans,” said Shaquille O’Neal, Basketball Hall of Famer, former professional basketball player and sports analyst.  “I’ve learned that there are not only specific risk factors in African Americans but also treatment options that offer them specific benefits. I’m partnering with Arbor to motivate African Americans living with heart failure to talk to their doctor and ensure they’re doing everything they can to take care of their health.”

The Shaquille Gets Real About Heart Failure campaign includes a website,, created to provide answers to African American heart failure patients and healthcare providers, an educational video series featuring Shaquille O’Neal and details about the Shaq BiDil Access Program. The Shaq BiDil Access Program brings together a set of savings options that ensures reasonable access to the treatment, BiDil® (isosorbide dinitrate/hydralazine hydrochloride), the first heart failure medication indicated for self-identified African American patients with heart failure.9 BiDil® is a vasodilator that boosts the supply of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes vasodilation, which widens and relaxes blood  vessels in the body.6

Studies have shown that African Americans may be more likely to have problems with their blood vessels being able to relax, which can narrow the blood vessels and make it harder for blood to get through.5,6 This may be due to a reduced responsiveness in African Americans to nitric oxide and lower amounts of nitric oxide produced by the body.6

In the landmark African American Heart Failure Trial (A-HeFT), BiDil® was found to reduce the risk of dying by 43 percent and reduce the risk of first hospitalization for heart failure by 39 percent in African American patients with class III or class IV heart failure when added to current standard therapies.7

“Arbor is committed to identifying solutions to unique health challenges facing a number of different patient populations,” said Ed Shutter, President and CEO of Arbor Pharmaceuticals. “We are embarking

on this campaign to support our ongoing efforts to improve the lives of African American patients suffering from heart failure and are thrilled to partner with Shaquille, as he shares our passion for helping others and educating the community on ways to better manage their health.”

Disease disparities between people of different ethnicities continues to gather interest and support from the medical community. For example, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recently published guidelines on cardiovascular risk factors, encouraging healthcare providers to consider ethnicity when determining risks and treatment options.8

“In the A-HeFT trial, adding BiDil® to current therapies made a significant difference in the lives of African Americans with heart failure7,” said Elizabeth Ofili, MD, MPH, FACC, first female president of the Association of Black Cardiologists and Professor of Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine. “I am proud to work with Shaquille O’Neal and Arbor Pharmaceuticals to encourage healthcare providers to consider the benefits of BiDil® when evaluating treatment plans for their African American patients with heart failure.”

For more information about Shaquille Gets Real About Heart Failure, visit


  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Heart Failure.   failure. Accessed January 4, 2019.
  2. Bibbins-Domingo K, Pletcher MJ, Lin F, et al. Racial differences in incident heart failure among young adults. N Engl J Med. 2009;360(12):1179-1190.
  3. Yancy, C. W. (2005). Heart Failure in African Americans. The American Journal of Cardiology, 96(7), 3–12.
  4. Dries, D.L., Exner, D. F., Gersh B. J., et al. (1999) Racial Differences in the outcome of left ventricular dysfunction. N Engl J Med 340:609-616
  5. Sharma A, Colvin-Adams M, Yancy CW. Heart failure in African Americans: disparities can be overcome. Cleve Clin J Med. 2014;81(5):301-311.
  6. Yancy CW. Heart failure in African Americans: unique etiology and pharmacologic treatment responses. J Natl Med Assoc. 2003;95(1):1-9
  7. Taylor AL, Ziesche S, Yancy C, et al. Combination of isosorbide dinitrate and hydralazine in blacks with heart failure. N Engl J Med. 2004;351(20):2049-2057.
  8. Grundy SM, Stone NJ, Bailey, AL, Beam C, et al. AHA/ACC/AACVPR/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/ADA/AGS/APhA/ASPC/NLA/PCNA guideline on the management of blood cholesterol: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. Nov 2018, 25709; DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.11.003
  9. BiDil [package insert]. Atlanta, GA: Arbor Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Information for Patients about BiDil®

BiDil is approved for use with other heart medicines to treat heart failure in black patients to improve survival, improve heart failure symptoms, and help patients stay out of the hospital longer. There is little experience in patients with heart failure who experience significant symptoms while at rest. Most patients in the clinical study of BiDil also received other heart failure medicines.


Tell your doctor about any allergies you have, especially if you’re sensitive to nitrates, such as nitroglycerin tablets or isosorbide dinitrate (Isordil®). BiDil has a nitrate component, so you need to let your doctor know.

Tell your doctor if you’re taking any erectile dysfunction or pulmonary hypertension drugs like Viagra® or Revatio™ (sildenafil), Levitra® (vardenafil) or Cialis®(tadalafil).


Also tell your doctor if you are taking any medication to decrease blood pressure because when taken with BiDil, blood pressure may become too low.

It is possible you’ll get headaches, especially at first, but they often lessen over time. Keep your doctor posted on your headache progress; he or she may want to adjust your dosage.

If you experience dizziness, call your doctor. Please make sure to tell your doctor about any of the signs or symptoms mentioned below or about any unusual events that worry you.

Drinking less fluids than your doctor recommends or losing fluid due to diarrhea, sweating, or vomiting may cause low blood pressure, lightheadedness, or fainting. If fainting occurs, stop taking BiDil and contact your doctor immediately.

Lightheadedness may occur when standing, especially after sitting or lying down.

If you experience any achy and/or swollen joints, unexplained fever for more than a few days, skin rashes, chest pain, prolonged weakness or fatigue (even after a good night’s sleep), or any other unexplained signs or symptoms, make sure to tell your doctor as they may be signs of a serious medical condition.

You may also experience rapid heartbeat that could lead to chest pain or aggravate chest pain, or numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.

For full prescribing information for BiDil®, visit:  pi.pdf?v=1545861112258

About BiDil® (isosorbide dinitrate/hydralazine hydrochloride)

BiDil® is the first heart failure medication indicated for self-identified African Americans with heart failure. BiDil® has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use by self- identified African American patients in addition to standard heart failure medicines. For more information visit

About Arbor Pharmaceuticals, LLC

Arbor Pharmaceuticals, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is a specialty pharmaceutical company currently focused on the cardiovascular, neurology, hospital and pediatric markets as well as generics through its Wilshire division. In addition to an extensive pipeline, the company continues to actively pursue growth through acquisition or licensing of marketed or late-stage development products. Arbor currently markets twenty-two approved NDA and ANDA products, and, along with Wilshire, has over forty products in development. For more information regarding Arbor Pharmaceuticals or any of its products, visit or send email inquiries to

Media Contact:

Spectrum Science Communications Jenn Gordon

P: (+1) 202-587-2580