Under the Skin of Psoriasis

unnamedGuest blog by: Carin Landsmer, Director of External Affairs, Eli Lilly & Company, Sweden

This past week was the week of Almedalen on the island of Gotland in Sweden. The island may be small but the initiative is not. It’s a week when politicians, entrepreneurs, organizations, journalists, unions, companies and people meet, interact, and discuss the current and future trends impacting society and how things could be improved for the better. That applies to the future of health care too. One young woman spoke of her own personal battle with psoriasis from the age of 10 and her resulting drive to help other patients get better support and better access earlier.

It’s a year since the World Health Organization adopted its resolution to improve the lives of patients with psoriasis – has the situation changed or improved for psoriasis patients since then? We organised a seminar together with Dagens Medicin to take a look at this question, in what was our fifth year taking part in the Almedalen event. It was at this seminar that the young patient from the patient association “Ung Psoriasis”, told her story.

When first diagnosed with psoriasis at 10 years of age, she was a member of the national swimming team in Sweden. Due to her psoriasis she had to give up her swimming career and instead spend around 3 hours every day moisturizing her skin. She is now 19 and although her psoriasis is under control, she is sad about the years she lost earlier and not receiving the right treatment sooner. We brought together a diverse panel to discuss what needs to be done now to improve care for the many patients with psoriasis.

The seminar “Under the skin of psoriasis - can healthcare provide patients with what they need?” brought the following panelists together:

  • Mona Ståhle, Professor, Karolinska University Hospital
  • Barbra Bohannan from the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations
  • Anna Starbrink (FP), County Council Stockholm
  • Anders Henriksson (S), Chair, Board of Kalmar County Council and first Vice Chair, SKL
  • Olivia Wigzell, General Director, SBU (Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services)
  • Maja Florin, Facilitator and Manager, Dagens Medicin Agenda

They discussed that there is still a great need for the following to improve psoriasis care:

  • To increase awareness and knowledge about psoriasis in society, and understanding the most important gaps
  • To achieve equal care within the health sector
  • To establish national healthcare guidance for better care for patients with psoriasis
  • To increase research into children and adolescents with psoriasis
  • To continue managed entry agreements to accelerate access to new innovative treatment options

Sidenote: The World Health Organization Resolution on Psoriasis

“A resolution on psoriasis encourages Member States to raise awareness about the disease and to advocate against the stigma experienced by so many people who suffer from it. It requests the WHO Secretariat to draw attention to the public health impact of psoriasis and publish a global report on the disease, emphasizing the need for greater research and identifying successful strategies for integrating the management of psoriasis into existing services for noncommunicable diseases by the end of 2015.

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterised by scaly, red skin lesions. People with psoriasis have relatively higher risks of heart disease, stroke, hypertension and diabetes. Studies have documented higher rates of depression and anxiety compared with the general population.”