Sanofi, Regeneron tackle atopic dermatitis bullying with crowdsourced solutions

As part of Sanofi and Regeneron's campaign to fight bullying around atopic dermatitis, teen patient Malena and her mom tell their story. (Sanofi and Regeneron)

Sanofi and Regeneron want to stop bullying around atopic dermatitis. So this fall, the drugmaker partners launched the “Agents of Change” AD Challenge and asked people to submit ideas.

After more than 40 submissions were filed, Sanofi and Regeneron’s challenge steering committee—which includes a patient with atopic dermatitis, a parent of a child with atopic dermatitis and an advocacy group representative—has narrowed the field to 15. Next month, the judges will narrow even further during a final review with up to five grant winners to be announced in April 2020. Along with grants, winners will get to collaborate with healthcare innovation specialists to bring their ideas to life.

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The idea for the challenge stemmed from Sanofi and Regeneron’s ongoing commitment to people with type 2 inflammatory diseases and specifically from input from people living with atopic dermatitis. Some 39% of adolescents with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis reported being bullied or teased about it.

“We’ve heard very clearly from this community that bullying is a real issue and not only for adolescents living with atopic dermatitis, but also for adults who are living with the disease,” Ilana Tabak, director of patient advocacy at Regeneron, said.

The 15 shortlisted ideas that came from around the world include storytelling projects, an art and literary contest, early screening, self-confidence workshops and even a card game.

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To highlight the challenge, Sanofi and Regeneron created a short film on the ChangeAD.com website about Malena, a 14-year-old girl in Buenos Aires who has suffered with severe atopic dermatitis since birth. She and her mother talk about her challenges, including bullying and severe and painful atopic dermatitis flare-ups.

Sanofi Genzyme and Regeneron co-market next-gen immunology drug Dupixent, which is approved to treat atopic dermatitis, asthma, and, most recently, chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps. The companies nabbed a specific indication to treat atopic dermatitis in young patients ages 12 to 17 in March.

The inaugural crowdsource challenge “comes from the perspective of both of companies really being committed to the atopic dermatitis community, raising awareness about this condition and really empowering that community to take action and to make some social change,” Tabak said.