Educating Psoriasis Patients about Treatment Options, Comorbidities Is a Top Priority

Patients who understand treatments and associated medical conditions make more informed choices.

World Psoriasis Day, held annually on October 29th, is an opportunity for patients, healthcare professionals and advocates worldwide to share information on a misunderstood disease that can significantly impact the lives of those affected. Celgene believes that addressing the needs of people dealing with this chronic condition requires better education for patients and the general public.

More than 125 million people worldwide are afflicted with psoriasis, three quarters of whom believe the disease has a negative impact on their quality of life. What many don’t know, however, is that up to 30 percent of individuals with psoriasis will also develop a potentially debilitating inflammatory disorder of the joints known as psoriatic arthritis.

 

Perhaps stemming from this knowledge gap, only half of those with this form of arthritis ever get diagnosed. If not diagnosed and treated properly, psoriatic arthritis can be disabling and cause irreversible joint damage. But understanding their increased risk can improve the odds that patients will be diagnosed and effectively treated in a timely manner.

 

Proper treatment also requires improved communication between patients and their physicians, and between the dermatologists who treat psoriasis and the rheumatologists who diagnose psoriatic arthritis. The vast majority of patients with psoriatic arthritis—85 percent—experienced their psoriasis symptoms first. For 75 percent of patients, it may take eight to 10 years before the arthritis symptoms develop. This lag means patients must keep their physicians apprised of changing or worsening symptoms. And it means open communication networks between dermatologists and rheumatologists are needed to avoid delays in diagnosis.

 

In addition to psoriatic arthritis, people with psoriasis are at a greater risk of developing other serious disorders, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression.

Thankfully, treatment options for psoriasis are expanding, as researchers are able to better characterize altered interactions between skin and immune cells that cause psoriasis. With these insights, they have developed new therapies that disrupt molecules facilitating those interactions.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, “educating patients about treatment options” was ranked as the most-needed tool for patients in a survey led by the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA). The results were released on World Psoriasis Day as part of IFPA’s efforts to help raise awareness about the disease and its associated conditions.

And IFPA isn’t the only advocacy organization dedicating itself to the needs of these patients. Earlier this year, a coalition of four patient advocacy organizations released a consensus statement emphasizing their commitment to speeding diagnosis, improving treatment rates and bettering disease management through education and support services for both health care professionals and patients.

In addition, this spring the World Health Organization passed a resolution that recognized the global burden of psoriasis and its comorbidities—including heart attacks, ulcers and mild liver disease. The resolution encouraged governments to reduce the social stigma and discrimination associated with psoriasis through advocacy and education.

Through these combined efforts, the recognition of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis as serious diseases has grown admirably over the past year. Nevertheless, educational resources to help patients take a more active role in their care remain a top priority. Celgene remains committed to this endeavor in its quest to help improve the lives of patients with these chronic, debilitating conditions.