Novartis enlists body painter to showcase psoriasis patient testimonies

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Most psoriasis patients feel shunned and embarrassed at times because others don’t understand their medical condition, Novartis ($NVS) recently found. Now, the company is sporting a campaign to help change that--and it’s teamed up with a body painter to do it.

The Swiss drugmaker has brought on artist Natalie Fletcher--herself a psoriasis sufferer--to showcase patients’ stories. In a new video, Fletcher paints beach scenes and broken hearts to explain the “nightmares they struggle with and the hopes they have of clear skin”--all while using skin as a canvas.

“I hope that people get a little bit of awareness about what psoriasis is and what people who have it deal with,” Fletcher says in the video. “Not only do they suffer physically, but they suffer emotionally from it. Oftentimes people become depressed or really lonely, and I think it’s nice to get that message out there of ‘it’s not contagious and it’s not their fault’ and just bring some kindness.”

The video coincided with results from an 8,300-patient global survey--the largest to date, according to Novartis--showing that 84% of people with moderate to severe psoriasis suffer discrimination and humiliation.

What’s more, more than half of those don’t expect their situations to improve: 55% believe clear or nearly clear skin is not a realistic goal.

Novartis has been working hard to combat the former--it has fielded awareness efforts featuring pro photographer Rick Guidotti and, separately, '80s icon Cyndi Lauper--but the company’s main focus is on the latter. The company markets next-gen psoriasis med Cosentyx, and it will need that 55% figure to rise if it wants to see the hot new launcher continue to pick up steam.

So far, things are going well for the newcomer drug, which managed to rack up additional indications--in psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis--before new-age competition hit the scene in the form of Eli Lilly’s ($LLY) Taltz. But other rivals are making their way through the clinic to challenge the pair; Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Valeant ($VRX), Merck ($MRK) and others are all gunning for a piece of Cosentyx’s market share.

- read the release
- watch the video

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