Global Burden of Psoriasis Recognized by WHO

Policymakers charged with improving education and access to treatments for psoriasis and associated comorbidities.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently recognized psoriasis as a serious non-communicable disease that requires better global awareness and care. For the 125 million people worldwide with psoriasis, this recognition provides hope that governments will improve education about this disease and access to effective treatments.

“It’s an extremely important step to be recognized,” said Dr. Mahira El Sayed, professor of dermatology, venereology and andrology at Ainshams University in Cairo. “Governments around the world need to recognize the importance of psoriasis as a disease and its association with comorbidities.”

Although some think of psoriasis as simply a cosmetic condition, severe psoriasis can shorten lifespans by 3.5 years on average for men and 4.4 years for women.

“Psoriasis is an inflammatory disease that not only affects the skin,” El Sayed said. “It also involves the blood vessels, for example, and has been found to be very closely related to diabetes.”

 

 

Other comorbidities include heart attacks, ulcers and mild liver disease. And up to 30 percent of psoriasis patients also suffer from psoriatic arthritis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.

The odds of comorbidities increase with a patient’s age and disease severity, according to recent studies. For those 65 and over, nearly half have at least three comorbidities.

 

Increased Risk of Comorbidities Associated with Severe Psoriasis

 

With the development of new and effective therapies for the disease, researchers are now investigating whether early treatment could help reduce the impact of comorbidities on patients and the health care system.

 

 

Comorbidities increase overall health care spending. Treating patients who have multiple chronic diseases costs up to seven times as much as treating those with just one, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. And people living with psoriasis are almost twice as likely to be hospitalized for an infectious disease compared with the general population.

“Psoriasis is directly linked to higher costs in health care services and has a direct impact to productivity, limiting the ability of people to work,” said Mario Ottiglio, director of public affairs and global health policy at International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations. “So the economic impact is relevant.”

The WHO resolution recognizes the comorbidities that plague psoriasis patients and encourages governments to reduce social stigma and discrimination through advocacy. Now that governments have been provided with a direction, it’s time to act and help ease the burden on patients.

To learn more about recent advances in psoriasis treatment, read our Developments in Psoriasis Management report.