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American Performing Icon Ben Vereen Encourages People to 'Take the Stage' and Act on Their Diabetes in 2009
Date:4/21/2009

- Ben Vereen to Extend National Diabetes Awareness Campaign in Six Additional Cities -

BRIDGEWATER, N.J., April 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Tony Award-winning actor and Broadway star Ben Vereen will reprise his role as a diabetes advocate and again Take the Stage for Diabetes Awareness with sanofi-aventis U.S. to share his personal experience with diabetes. This spring Mr. Vereen will extend the national campaign he kicked off in September of 2008 by traveling to six additional cities across the country. Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in December of 2007, Mr. Vereen has been working to manage his condition for more than a year and now strives to motivate even more people living with diabetes to get serious about their health and work with their doctors to find the best overall treatment plan for them.

"When I was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I was scared and worried about how it could change my life. But I soon realized I had an opportunity to take my experience and use it to help others with the disease," said Mr. Vereen. "Living with diabetes taught me how to focus on doing the things I need to do to be healthier, including following my diabetes treatment plan of managing my diet, exercising regularly, checking my blood sugar often each day, and taking my diabetes medication as prescribed. If you are not educated about diabetes, you can't possibly know what you can do to manage it so I remain committed to raising awareness about diabetes, including treatment and care."

Mr. Vereen has been inspired by the people he's met who have shared their personal stories about living with diabetes. He wants to continue inspiring others living with diabetes and let them know that they are not alone, in the hope that more people will make a commitment to have a detailed conversation about their treatment plan with their physician.

"My doctor explained that because my body does not produce enough insulin naturally, taking daily insulin injections as part of my overall diabetes treatment plan would play an important role in helping to control my blood sugar levels," said Mr. Vereen. "I am glad I asked my doctor to discuss all available treatment options because learning about how insulin works in the body of a person with type 2 diabetes helped me get over some of my initial doubts and fears."

Healthcare professionals who share Mr. Vereen's goal of educating people living with diabetes will join him on his nationwide tour, offering expert advice and encouraging others to work with their doctors to find the best overall treatment plan for them. As a person living with type 1 diabetes, Steven Edelman, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of California, San Diego and Founder and Director of Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD), a not-for-profit diabetes education organization, knows firsthand how crucial it is to make diabetes and health management a top priority, so he always keeps an open dialogue with his patients.

"When I talk to my patients about all available diabetes treatment options, I also make sure to tell them about insulin. Not every type 2 diabetes patient I see needs insulin, but someday they might," said Dr. Edelman. "I find that explaining how insulin works in the body of a person living with type 2 diabetes helps patients overcome initial fears or reluctance to add insulin to their treatment plan when appropriate."

For many, controlling blood sugar levels requires regular blood sugar monitoring, diet modification and an increased exercise regimen. For others, taking oral diabetes medications and/or adding insulin to their overall diabetes treatment plan may be necessary to help maintain control of their blood sugar levels. Since his diagnosis, Mr. Vereen has been determined to continue doing the things he loves, so he partners with his doctor to make sure he has found the right treatment plan.

"I made a commitment to my health and found a treatment plan that helped me control my blood sugar," said Mr. Vereen. "But, people should know that I continue to take action everyday -- checking my blood sugar levels, making healthy food choices, exercising, and taking my diabetes medication as prescribed -- to make sure I maintain control."

For more information about Mr. Vereen's personal experience living with diabetes and tips on diabetes treatment and care, please visit www.BensDiabetesStory.com, which includes tour details so people can learn when Mr. Vereen will be traveling to their city as he continues to take the stage for diabetes awareness.

About Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic, widespread condition in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin -- the hormone needed to transport glucose (sugar) from the blood into the cells of the body for energy. More than 230 million people worldwide are living with the disease, and this number is expected to rise to a staggering 350 million within 20 years. It is estimated that nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes, including an estimated 5.7 million who remain undiagnosed.

About Taking Control of Your Diabetes, 501(c)3

Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to informing and empowering people with diabetes to become actively involved in their own health care. TCOYD does this through live national conferences, local events, publications, online resources and their own educational television series. Each year TCOYD has the opportunity to spark a new understanding and a new energy in thousands of people living with this disease. For more information, please visit www.tcoyd.org.

About sanofi-aventis

Sanofi-aventis U.S. is an affiliate of sanofi-aventis, a leading global pharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions to help improve the lives of patients. Sanofi-aventis is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).

For more information, www.sanofi-aventis.us or www.sanofi-aventis.com

    US Contact:
    Carrie Melia
    Carrie.melia@sanofi-aventis.com
    908-981-6486

US.GLA.09.02.103


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SOURCE sanofi-aventis U.S.
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