TV writer Peter Moffat has an intimate knowledge of severe atopic dermatitis; he’s lived with it for 50 years. Moffat even wrote the condition into his hit BBC series “Criminal Justice,” which became the hit HBO miniseries “The Night Of.” Both shows feature a lawyer named Stone with noticeable atopic dermatitis on his always-sandaled feet.
Now, Moffat has teamed up with Regeneron, Sanofi and the National Eczema Association on an atopic dermatitis disease awareness effort called “Understand AD: A Day in the Life.” The featured “day in the life” short film is one that Moffat wrote, directed and narrated to bring the reality of eczema and atopic dermatitis into clearer view. It follows a young woman with atopic dermatitis and shows how everyday items like a sink, bleach, lotion and even a hairbrush play into her life in ways they don’t for people without the skin condition.
“Understand that it’s painful, it’s chronic, it’s inflammation, but it’s not contagious. Understand it effects their entire life. It’s more than skin deep," Moffat's narration explains. Other videos on the website also chronicle stories from real patients, including Moffat.
Moffat and the partners debuted the effort and the UnderstandAD.com website at an event in New York last week. Moffat, who has had people move away from him when they’ve seen his atopic dermatitis-affected skin, said he wanted to create a conversation about the disease—how it’s not talked about, how it should be talked about, and how misunderstood it is by the public at large. Atopic dermatitis is a serious and chronic form of eczema.
“What was great about ‘The Night Of,’ among many things, was the response of the community at large to the story of (John Turturro’s character John Stone’s) disease, which probably for the first time in American television was laid out in all its proper, full story. Day to day, minute by minute, living with it in his private and public life. Once the show had that success and attention, and people had written or thought about AD or eczema properly off the back of that, I found I was wanting to do more. This program is about that,” Moffat said.
Verena Hultsch, a dermatologist and medical affairs director at Sanofi Genzyme, worked with Moffat on the medical approvals on the program and was impressed with Moffat, calling him “the perfect ambassador for understanding AD from his story.”
“Society is totally underinformed about the severeness of atopic dermatitis. These patients have a hard life and it never stops,” said Hultsch, who has firsthand experience with AD through her own children’s conditions.
Sanofi and Regeneron market the treatment Dupixent, approved in March as the first drug to inhibit the IL-4 and IL-13 immune system pathways, and the first new treatment in years for atopic dermatitis. Analysts expect the drug to reach peak sales of $4 billion.
Moffat said he hopes the film will spark conversations and empower people with AD.
“What’s completely brilliant is I thought that since I’ve been a sufferer, how great is it that I could be a spokesperson. But actually what I'm finding is that the whole business of talking to people who are patients or active in the community is incredibly empowering for myself and for having proper conversations. Which is the whole point, isn’t it really? To just get people to talk about it in a normal way, rather than hiding it and keeping it secret,” he said.