How can we re-commit to finding solutions to the psoriasis challenge in 2018?

Today’s guest blogger is Tim Ashby, International Therapeutic Area Leader from Lilly.

All around the world, the ending of the old year and the greeting of the new is a time to reflect on what has passed, and set intentions for the year to come. In 2017, Lilly’s commitment to supporting people who live with psoriasis reached new heights with the publication of a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Encouraging policy action to address the psoriasis challenge1, which Lilly commissioned to assess the progress that has been made, across the EU and Canada, in responding to the World Health Organisation’s call for global action against psoriasis.2,3 As we approach the new year, I wanted to reflect on the report’s findings, and share our intention to continue, in 2018, to find novel and patient-centric solutions to the psoriasis challenge.

The report, which includes insights from leading psoriasis experts in academia and medicine, also draws on the experiences of patient advocacy groups and of people living with psoriasis. Its key findings included:

  • Awareness of psoriasis is low – the common perception is that it is an itchy skin condition, not a long-term, autoimmune condition.
  • Psoriasis patient associations in Canada and Europe have been successful in laying the groundwork for better education to break down the stigma and discrimination associated with psoriasis.
  • Healthcare professionals, particularly general practitioners, need to be better educated about psoriasis so that it can be diagnosed at an earlier stage.
  • Patient-centered, coordinated care is the most effective way to manage psoriasis and its comorbidities.
  • Inequality in psoriasis management exists in all six of the countries surveyed, though each has unique challenges in terms of improving the lives of people living with psoriasis.1

Psoriasis is a public health issue. In a recent study of five European countries the cost of psoriasis – regardless of severity – was put at between $2,077 and $13,132 in purchasing power parity terms, per patient, per year.4 As a chronic health condition, those living with psoriasis will need support throughout their lives. While direct health costs such as healthcare are important, there are also indirect costs associated with psoriasis such as time off work and psychological burden. The burden of other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease and diabetes has been acknowledged; psoriasis continues to lag behind.

Winter is a great time for those of us who work to improve the lives of people with psoriasis, to reflect on out efforts to understand the patient experience, as the stress of the festive period and the effect of cold weather on skin health can both have a significant impact on people living with psoriasis. For those of you keen learn more about the psoriasis experience this winter, I would recommend you follow @PsoriasisIFPA on Twitter – Lilly is proud to support IFPA, and their excellent work supporting those living with psoriasis around the world.

The EIU report shows that we have come a long way in terms of addressing the stigma of psoriasis, but there is still work that needs to be done. I am therefore calling for policy-makers, patient organisations, healthcare professionals and scientists to join forces to improve the quality of life for people living with NCDs such as psoriasis. Lilly already has exciting work planned for 2018 – we are extending our Closer Together survey to 8 more countries, where we will interview people living with psoriasis and form a more complete understanding of their experiences.

These conditions are incurable, chronic, and often poorly understood. By taking steps to improve the care for those living with them, we can take steps towards a more compassionate, cost-effective way of approaching their life-long health journey.

With that, and on behalf of myself and my team, I’d like to wish you a very happy holiday and a peaceful, joyful 2018.

  1. The Economist Intelligence Unit, Encouraging policy action to address the psoriasis challenge. EIU Perspectives, 2017. Available at: https://perspectives.eiu.com/healthcare/encouraging-policy-action-address-psoriasis-challenge-1/white-paper/encouraging-policy-action-address-psoriasis-challenge. Last accessed November 2017
  2. WHO, Global Report on Psoriasis. Geneva, World Health Organisation, 2016. Available at: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/204417/1/9789241565189_eng.pdf. Last accessed November 2017
  3. WHO, Resolution WHA67.9. Geneva, World Health Organisation, 2014. Available at: http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA67/A67_R9-en.pdf. Last accessed November 2017
  4. R Burgos-Pol et al, “The Cost of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis in 5 European Countries: A Systematic Review”, Actas Dermosifiliogr, 2016;107(7):577-590.
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