Sanofi, Regeneron crown winners in contest for atopic dermatitis bullying solutions

Sanofi Regeneron AD promotional material
The initial Sanofi and Regeneron ask for an anti-bullying AD challenge called up "agents of change." (Sanofi and Regeneron)

Sanofi and Regeneron have announced five winners in their atopic dermatitis challenge designed to address the bullying and stigma around the skin condition. The “Agents of Change” winners span the globe from Australia, the U.K., Slovenia, Tanzania and the U.S., with solutions that range from anti-bullying ambassadors to art contests.

Each of the winning teams will receive a grant of $10,000 and ongoing support from Sanofi and Regeneron throughout the year. Sanofi affiliates will work with winners in their local areas and help publicize the efforts in those countries.

“A big takeaway for us is that while bullying is a unifying theme no matter where you are in the world, the ideas we saw and the proposals that came through were really very culturally nuanced. It was great to see a range of ways people suggested tackling bullying that was very specific to their local communities,” Ilana Tabak, Regeneron director of patient advocacy, said, noting that “what might work in a country like Australia might not work as well in Slovenia.”

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Sanofi and Regeneron chose anti-bullying as the topic for their inaugural year of the atopic dermatitis innovation challenge after speaking to patients and advocates about their experiences and unmet needs. The pharma companies received 44 submissions from 15 different countries with a mix of patients, advocacy groups, entrepreneurs and even teachers proposing ideas.

Maryam Hassimi, Sanofi Genzyme’s global head of public affairs for type 2 inflammatory diseases, pointed to the volume and variety of idea submissions as evidence that the emotional and psychosocial burden of bullying resonates with the AD community around the world.

The winning group from Slovenia, for instance—Atopika—plans to create an art and literacy contest around the theme “My Skin—My Pain,” while U.K. winner The Diana Award, which already works to address teen issues, will tailor its anti-bullying program to address AD and train one teen ambassador for peer-to-peer education.

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Working with a steering committee made up of an international group of patients, caregivers and advocacy group leaders, Sanofi and Regeneron plan to announce a new crowdsourcing challenge and theme every September on World Atopic Dermatitis Day.

With a long-term commitment to AD awareness, Hassimi said, “each year we hope to put out a new challenge to raise awareness around the full impact of the disease.”

Sanofi and Regeneron co-market the immunology blockbuster Dupixent, approved to treat atopic dermatitis and asthma. Even with sales of more than $2 billion in 2019, Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson predicted the type 2 anti-inflammatory will become a megabrand with sales of $10 billion or more annually. The two companies began branded TV and mainstream DTC ads in November 2019.