Novartis, Cyndi Lauper shine a light on psoriasis challenges in the workplace

Novartis headquarters
Novartis is continuing its work with singer Cyndi Lauper in psoriasis, launching a new unbranded campaign around workplace stigma as well as new branded ads over the past month. (Novartis)

Singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper first joined Novartis’ Cosentyx team as a spokesperson more than four years ago, and the two are still churning out initiatives.

The latest is an unbranded awareness campaign to open up frank discussions about psoriasis stigma in the workplace. The effort, called “PsO at Work,” was inspired by psoriasis patients who have talked to Novartis over the past five years about the challenges of having psoriasis at work. Those include feeling embarrassed about visible plaques and flaking skin and the stigma caused by the inaccurate perception that the condition is contagious, a Novartis spokesman said in an email interview.

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“PsO at Work aims to empower patients to feel comfortable speaking up about how psoriasis impacts them in the workplace and how they manage and deal with it,” he said.

Lauper shares her own story online at PsOatWork.com and a social media effort encourages others to add their own experiences with the hashtag #PsOatWork.

“Whether you are a performer, teacher or office manager, psoriasis can be a challenge at work and impact your ability to perform at your best," Lauper said in a press release. "Learning to figure out how to manage my psoriasis has allowed me to continue doing what I love while still standing out in the crowd—but not because of my psoriasis."

The unbranded effort comes on the heels of another round of Cosentyx branded TV ads, debuted recently, that include Lauper talking about her personal psoriasis journey over the past four years.

The new ads include several with Lauper and other real-life patients together and individually as they tout their four or five years of clear skin while using Cosentyx. The ads continue the "See Me" theme, begun three years ago.

The spokesman was clear that while Lauper appears in both campaigns, the two efforts are distinct and separate. Lauper has done other awareness work for Novartis previously, dating back to 2015.

“Although Cyndi does appear in branded advertisements, this (PoS at Work) initiative is about raising awareness of psoriasis and validating the experiences of people living with the condition, not drug. As the spokesperson for the campaign, Cyndi plays an important role as both an advocate and someone who has experienced the impact of psoriasis at work,” he said.

RELATED: Lilly tees up another Novartis battle with ankylosing spondylitis OK for Taltz

Cosentyx was first approved in early 2015 to treat plaque psoriasis and added approved indications for ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis in early 2016. Its chief competitor is Eli Lilly’s Taltz, another IL-17A inhibitor that now also compete in all three indications. With new phase 3 data in spondyloarthritis, Novartis is looking to make it four.

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