AbbVie challenges psoriasis patients with MyHealthTeams linkup

Sometimes a challenge can be a good thing for patients. A new effort from AbbVie and partner MyHealthTeams asks people with psoriasis to challenge themselves by finding new ways to improve their well-being.

The “Gaining Control with Psoriasis” challenge launched last week inside the MyHealthTeams’ MyPsoriasisTeam social network. The goal is to get patients to better advocate for themselves—not just discussing the facts of their condition, but also opening up about what's happening to them both physically and mentally.

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“Even before COVID, we found that people with psoriasis were experiencing all sorts of symptoms that were impacting them physically socially and emotionally, and yet they really weren't getting any treatment for most of those symptoms,”  Eric Peacock, co-founder and CEO of MyHealthTeams, said.

Three main sections inside the new content each tackle a different key issue that people with psoriasis face daily—wardrobe, self-care and doctor discussions.

Many patients are embarrassed to wear clothing that exposes their condition, even wearing long sleeves and pants in summer weather to avoid showing the plaques and scales that are the hallmark of the disease, Peacock said. The self-care section focuses on diet, exercise and gratitude, which can all help keep breakouts under control through avoiding triggers and managing stress.

Another important element in "Gaining Control" is encouraging honest, two-way conversation with doctors. That means not just talking about the physical problems that can be dealt with by trying new prescriptions, for instance, but rather advocating a holistic approach to treatment. Patients are advised to journal their experiences and write about their challenges to find out what's working and what's not.

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Pharma companies are interested in those insights from patients, which is one of the reasons AbbVie partnered with MyHeathTeams on the project.

“A lot of pharma companies get all of their opinions about patients by just talking to key opinion leaders and medical directors, but when you look at the Venn diagram of what doctors say are important to patients and what patients say are important to patients, it's not a perfect crossover,” Peacock said.

Listening to patients' experiences, learning about their quality of life and then asking how pharma can best help them is the beginning of making progress on unmet issues in the healthcare system, he added.

While the MyPsoriasisTeam work is unbranded, AbbVie is a heavyweight in psoriasis meds. Skyrizi, its IL-23 inhibitor approved in 2019, raked in $1.07 billion through the first three quarters of 2020. There’s also the company’s older TNF inhibitor blockbuster Humira, with annual sales of more than $19 billion across all indications in 2019. However, while Humira currently leads the competition, biosimilar challengers are expected in the U.S. in 2023.