Almirall turns to fine art to debunk atopic dermatitis myths, reimagining classics with added eczema

Almirall is turning to art history to raise awareness of life with atopic dermatitis, creating a virtual “Atopic Museum” stocked with reimagined versions of famous paintings to make points about the condition.

Barcelona-based Almirall, which is developing the atopic dermatitis candidate lebrikizumab with Eli Lilly, used World Atopic Eczema Day 2023 to unveil its "Moving aheAD" awareness campaign. The centerpiece of the first phase of the campaign is a virtual art gallery designed to debunk misconceptions about the skin condition.

Visitors to the website that hosts the museum are greeted with a statistic about the prevalence of atopic dermatitis in the European Union and a question: “Do you wonder what would some of the most famous paintings in history look like if their protagonists suffered from atopic dermatitis?”  

Whether you’ve wondered that or not, Almirall has an answer. The first page shows a cartoon version of the Spanish princess at the center of Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas painting. Unlike in the original, the princess in Almirall’s reimagining has red marks on her face and neck. The cartoon is presented next to a myth—atopic dermatitis is only a pediatric problem—that flips over when clicked to reveal the truth. 

Clicking next brings up another artwork, a cartoon reimagining of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring, and another myth. Across the other pages of the museum, Almirall provides a whistlestop tour of art history—ranging from Young Woman With Unicorn and The Mona Lisa in the early 1500s through to the post-impressionists Paul Gauguin and Paul Cézanne—and of the myths about atopic dermatitis.  

The virtual gallery is part of an ongoing program. “We are actively devising new initiatives and activities aimed at enhancing awareness among society, patients, and healthcare professionals, thereby advancing the wellbeing of those living with atopic dermatitis,” Volker Koscielny, chief medical officer at Almirall, said in a statement. 

Almirall is ramping up its disease awareness activities as it prepares to try to eat into Dupixent’s share of the atopic dermatitis market. Like Dupixent, a blockbuster sold in Europe by Sanofi, lebrikizumab targets IL-13. Almirall, which expects to win approval in Europe late this year, and Lilly have shown lebrikizumab may benefit patients failed by Dupixent but also want to establish the drug as a first-line treatment.