Cimzia maker UCB takes next step in pregnancy initiative for women with IBD with 'Parenthood Project' campaign

Thanks to worries and misconceptions about their health, women with inflammatory bowel disease are up to three times more likely than other women to choose not to have children. UCB has teamed up with a cross-section of advocacy groups to fight those myths.

The IBD Parenthood Project is an educational and awareness campaign for healthcare professionals and patients sponsored by UCB and created by advocacy groups, led by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA).

The first-ever awareness push comes after the Belgium-based pharma sponsored a fledgling initiative last year to create a clinical care pathway and family planning support for women with IBD—and amid UCB's approval to add labeling data that highlights its anti-TNF therapy Cimzia's safety in pregnant women.

The campaign includes a website, paid and earned media placement and medical conferences, along with that clinical pathway, developed and published with the help of The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Girls With Guts.

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“Many women with IBD decide not to have children simply based on misperception about their disease and pregnancy,” said Kristi Lengyel, UCB’s head of patient advocacy in the U.S.

"We recognize there is an unmet need," Lengyel said. "Knowing that patients are foregoing a pregnancy because of their disease, we wanted to make facts and remove the myth of having autoimmune diseases and carrying a baby.”

The clinical care pathway the groups developed is the first evidence-based advisory that spans the entire family planning process, she said.

The pathway was first published by the AGA Journal online in January with a print version coming in the April issue of that journal, as well as the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and IBD Journal. The IBD Parenthood Project is also coordinating with popular online pregnancy website BabyCenter to publish IBD and pregnancy resources there, Lengyel said.

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In March, UCB received FDA approval for a label update for its anti-TNF drug Cimzia to include data that shows negligible-to-low transfer of Cimzia through the placenta and minimal transfer to breast milk from mother to infant. It had already nabbed a similar designation in Europe in 2017.

Cimzia is approved to treat patients with chronic inflammatory diseases including moderate to severe Crohn’s disease, moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. UCB reported sales of $1.05 billion for Cimzia in the first nine months of 2018, a slight increase of 3% over 2017.