• Sheryl Swoopes, WNBA Legend, Basketball Hall of Famer and Zilretta patient, tips off educational campaign about Zilretta and osteoarthritis knee pain.

CHICAGO and BURLINGTON, Mass. (Feb. 01, 2021) – The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) and Flexion Therapeutics Inc. today announced a new partnership to raise awareness of osteoarthritis-related knee pain and present ZILRETTA (triamcinolone acetonide extended-release injectable suspension) as an effective treatment option. The educational program tipped off with a virtual event featuring Sheryl Swoopes, basketball Hall of Famer and ZILRETTA patient, discussing how osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee has impacted her life and how ZILRETTA has helped with pain management. Swoopes is the first athlete from the WNBA to participate in the awareness program. The partnership with Swoopes complements Flexion’s relationship with ZILRETTA Athlete Ambassadors, NFL Hall of Famer Rod Woodson and 1980 USA hockey team captain and gold medal winner Mike Eruzione.

“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, the first player to be signed in the WNBA, is a three-time WNBA MVP and was named one of the league’s Top 15 Players of All Time at the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game. She won three Olympic gold medals and is one of 10 women’s basketball players to have won an Olympic gold medal, an NCAA Championship and a WNBA title. She was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016 and is an active leader in the NBRPA.

“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.”

Swoopes added, “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.”

Swoopes was treated 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 in the Houston area. 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.”

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

The NBRPA represents over 1,000 former NBA and WNBA players, making it the largest agency of its kind in basketball. This has allowed for direct access to players for opportunities to educate other members and their treating physicians.

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.

Please see for full Prescribing Information.

About the National Basketball Retired Players Association:

The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) is comprised of former professional basketball players from the NBA, ABA, WNBA and Harlem Globetrotters. It is a 501(c) 3 organization with a mission to develop, implement and advocate a wide array of programs to benefit its members, supporters and the community. The NBRPA was founded in 1992 by basketball legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson. The NBRPA works in direct partnerships with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. Legends Care is the charitable initiative of the NBRPA that positively impacts youth and communities through basketball. Scott Rochelle is President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Johnny Davis, Treasurer Sam Perkins, Secretary Grant Hill, Thurl Bailey, Caron Butler, Dave Cowens, Shawn Marion, David Naves and Sheryl Swoopes. Learn more at

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

On October 6, 2017, ZILRETTA was approved by the U.S. FDA as the first and only extended-release intra-articular therapy for patients confronting OA-related knee pain. ZILRETTA employs proprietary microsphere technology combining 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