UCB, tennis star Wozniacki double up to spotlight chronic inflammatory disease for women

Tennis champ Caroline Wozniacki stars in UCB's new awareness campaign to highlight women's challenges with chronic inflammatory disease. (AdvantageHers.com)

UCB’s newest spokesperson, tennis champion Caroline Wozniacki, has faced challenges on and off the court. Just months after winning her first Grand Slam at the Australia Open in 2018, she woke up with pain throughout her body.

“My body betrayed me. I couldn’t lift my arms … I struggled to brush my hair and get out of bed,” she says in a video on UCB’s “Advantage Hers” website.

She was initially told that the pain was all in her head. However, the then-28-year-old persisted and was eventually diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Under treatment, she continued to play on the tour and won another major tournament, the China Open, before revealing her diagnosis.

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After retiring from tennis earlier this year, Wozniacki wants to help other women dealing with chronic inflammatory disease. As part of the UCB disease awareness effort, she will share her story on social channels tagged #AdvantageHers and appear at events and media interviews to draw attention to the specific issues for women like her.

The “Advantage Hers” campaign highlights the need to improve the standard of care for women with inflammatory diseases, UCB said in a news release. Women often face gender inequalities that can lead to delayed diagnosis and misunderstandings about the different physical and mental burdens compared to those men with the same diseases face. Family planning and pregnancy issues are also not commonly addressed.

The campaign “reflects our commitment to understanding and addressing the unique needs of women with these chronic inflammatory diseases around the world, and helping to make a meaningful difference to their lives," Emmanuel Caeymaex, executive vice president of immunology solutions and U.S. head for UCB, said.

UCB has broached those issues through other efforts, sponsoring The IBD Parenthood Project last year and before that leading an initiative to create a clinical care pathway and family planning support for women with inflammatory bowel disease.

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UCB’s anti-TNF therapy Cimzia added to its label with FDA approval in 2018 that Cimzia presented "no to minimal transfer" during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Cimzia is approved to treat chronic inflammatory diseases including Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

In addition, UCB late last year hit its endpoints—and beat competitors—with its investigational bimekizumab, a bispecific inhibitor of IL-17A and IL-17F, in phase 3 psoriasis trials. Those showed bimekizumab could best Johnson & Johnson’s Stelara and AbbVie’s Humira in clearing psoriasis.