Novartis announces Skin Impressions campaign launch on the first International Urticaria Day, to provide support to people living with severe skin diseases such as chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU)

  • Today is the first ever International Urticaria Day, an international event to increase urticaria awareness and improve care around the globe and let people living with urticaria know they are not alone
  • Skin Impressions campaign aims to break down barriers preventing people suffering from severe skin diseases like chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) from living lives to the fullest
  • CIU is an unpredictable skin disease characterized by the presence of a debilitating form of chronic itch, hives with or without angioedema (deep swelling in the tissue of the skin), for more than six weeks, that can negatively impact an individual's quality of life1-5.
DORVAL, QC, Oct. 1, 2014 /CNW/ - To mark the first International Urticaria Day, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. announced the launch of the international Skin Impressions campaign which provides a glimpse into what it means to live with chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU). In collaboration with award-winning professional photographer Rick Guidotti of Positive Exposure®, and 14 Patient Ambassadors from around the world, Skin Impressions aims to break down barriers that prevent people with severe skin diseases from living their lives to the fullest through images and videos.
"October 1st, 2014 is an important day. It's a day where people living with hives for many years can be recognized and where physicians who have been treating the disease can get this message across to the world," said Dr. Gordon Sussman, MD, FRCPC, Allergist and Clinical Immunologist. "CIU is an unpredictable debilitating disease that primarily affects a young patient population that describe their conditions as distressing because of the significant negative impact it has on their quality of life. Increasing awareness of complexities associated with skin autoimmune diseases and their daily burden is fundamental."
Élaine Déry has been living with chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) for years now and speaks about the difficulties associated with her condition and the reaction she gets from others: "Our skin plays a key role in day-to-day human interactions, whether it's a first impression, handshake or hug. I once had to go to the ER because of a severe urticaria crisis and people were scared of me, moving away from me, thinking I was contagious. Seeing this kind of reaction from people is devastating. We must educate and inform to change misconceptions surrounding severe skin conditions. Uncover and re-examine how we view people living with skin diseases. Everyone should feel comfortable in their skin."
About CIU
CIU, also referred in some studies as chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU), is a severe and distressing skin condition characterized by red, swollen, itchy and sometimes painful hives or wheals on the skin that spontaneously present and reoccur for more than six weeks1-3.
At any given time, the prevalence of chronic urticaria (CU) is up to 1% of the world's population4. Up to 40% of CIU patients also experience concomitant angioedema, a swelling in the deep layers of the skin6. Disfigurement caused by angioedema and discomfort associated with this disorder can often pose long-term hardship for patients and their families11.
CIU is described by patients as a very distressing and unpredictable disease. They experience occupational disabilities, depression, lack of sleep, fatigue, pain, social isolation, and a feeling of lack of control over their lives which impart a significant negative impact on their daily functioning, thus drastically lowering their quality of life4,9. The majority of studies clearly show that women suffer from urticaria nearly twice as much as men do and that the peak incidence is reported between 20 and 40 years which means that patients are affected in the prime of both their work and family lives4.
Although 6 weeks' duration is the requirement to be considered chronic10, CIU can persist for years: average duration of CIU is between 1 to 5 years but longer disease duration can occurs in more severe patients or in patients with concurrent angioedema among other factors4. The chronicity aspect of CIU will significantly impact a person's life as it can potentially cause experiencing major disability, emotional distress and decreased productivity10.
CIU also results in a considerable economic burden. Although most patients with CIU are relatively young and otherwise healthy, their health care costs can be substantial. Medication and outpatient visits (direct costs), and lost productivity due to absence from work (indirect costs) are major cost drivers for CIU and increase with disease severity 13,14.
About Skin Impressions
The international Skin Impressions campaign is a collaboration between Novartis and professional photographer Rick Guidotti of Positive Exposure© to capture  what it means to people living with severe skin diseases like chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) and to their loved ones. The campaign features 14 Patient Ambassadors and aims to break down barriers that prevent people with severe skin diseases from living their lives to the fullest through images and videos.
About Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., a leader in the healthcare field, is committed to the discovery, development and marketing of innovative products to improve the well-being of all Canadians. In 2013, the company invested close to $100 million in research and development in Canada. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. employs more than 600 people in Canada. For further information, please consult
About Novartis 
Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, over-the-counter and animal health products. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2013, the Group achieved net sales of USD 57.9 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.9 billion (USD 9.6 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 135,000 full-time-equivalent associates and sell products in more than 150 countries around the world. For more information, please visit
Maurer M, Rosén K, Hsieh HJ, et al. Omalizumab for the treatment of chronic idiopathic or spontaneous urticaria. NEJM. 2013; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1215372.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) website. "Chronic Urticaria (Hives)." Accessed November 14, 2012.
 American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) website. "Skin Allergy Overview." Accessed November 14, 2012.
 Maurer M, Weller K, Bindslev-Jensen C, et al. Unmet clinical needs in chronic spontaneous urticaria. A GA2LEN task force report. Allergy. 2011; 66: 317–330.
Sánchez-Borges M, Asero R, Ansotegui IJ, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of urticaria and angioedema: a worldwide perspective (position paper). World Allergy Organization Journal. 2012; 5:125–147.
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Saini SS, Bindslev-Jensen C, Maurer M, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Omalizumab in Patients with Chronic Idiopathic/Spontaneous Urticaria Who Remain Symptomatic on H1-Antihistamines: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. J Invest Dermatol. 2014 Jul 21. doi: 10.1038/jid.2014.306. [Epub ahead of print].
Maurer M, Rosén K, Hsieh HJ, et al. Omalizumab for the treatment of chronic idiopathic or spontaneous urticaria. NEJM. 2013; 368(10):924-35.
 O'Donnell BF et al. The impact of chronic urticaria on the quality of life. Br J Dermatol. 1997; 136(2): 197–201.
Sussman G, Hébert J, Barron C, et al. Real-life experiences with omalizumab for the treatment of chronic urticaria, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. 2014; 170-174.
Ben-Shoshan M, Blinderman I, Raz A. Psychosocial factors and chronic spontaneous urticaria: a systematic review. Allergy 2013; 68: 131-141.
Kulthanan K, Jiamton S, Thumpimukvatana N, et al. Chronic idiopathic urticaria: prevalence and clinical course. J Dermatol. 2007;34:294–301.
Zazzali JL, Broder MS, Chang E, Chiu MW, Hogan DJ. Cost, utilization, and patterns of medication use associated with chronic idiopathic urticaria. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2012;108:98-102.
Delong LK, Culler SD, Saini SS, Beck LA, Chen SC. Annual direct and indirect health care costs of chronic idiopathic urticaria: a cost analysis of 50 nonimmunosuppressed patients. Arch Dermatol. 2008;144:35-9.
SOURCE Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.