The October 1, 2023 Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listing of a new, once-daily, oral treatment for severe chronic plaque psoriasis represents good news for the estimated 19,000 Australian adults living with the common inflammatory skin disease.

At VIVA! Communications, we are proud to be supporting the communication of this PBS listing announcement, working in partnership with Bristol Myers Squibb Australia & the Federal Health Minister, Mark Butler MP.

With recent research revealing the global burden of psoriasis has risen over the past 30 years, delivering timely & tailored treatment to this patient population is now, more than ever, a major public health priority.

According to Clinical Associate Professor & Staff Specialist at Royal North Shore Hospital, Stephen Shumack, OAM, Sydney, the reimbursement of a new treatment represents a positive step forward for Australian adults living with chronic severe plaque psoriasis.

“Psoriasis is a long-term, inflammatory disease in which an overgrowth of skin cells can be triggered by environmental, lifestyle, or medical stressors.

“Chronic plaque psoriasis accounts for approximately nine in 10 (90 per cent) of all psoriasis cases,” said A/Prof Shumack.

“The disease features red, violet, or grey raised plaques, depending on the patient’s skin tone. Often covered in silvery scales, these plaques can crack, bleed, & become itchy & painful.

“Living with severe chronic plaque psoriasis places people at a higher risk of developing other health problems, such as disorders affecting the heart & blood vessels,” A/Prof Shumack said.

“The disease also affects a person’s mental health, & can cause difficulty sleeping, & contribute to shame & stigma.”

Dermatologist & Founder, Chroma Dermatology, Dr Michelle Rodrigues, Melbourne, said given psoriasis symptoms can flare and subside over time, the disease typically requires life-long management.

“The availability of an additional, reimbursed treatment for adults living with severe chronic plaque psoriasis may help to reduce the physical, mental, & financial toll of the disease.”

Hair-&-makeup artist, Emma, 44 Sydney, has been living with severe chronic plaque psoriasis for more than 25 years. She first noticed “dry, red, flaky patches of skin” all over her back, at 17 years of age. Emma visited her GP & was subsequently diagnosed with chronic plaque psoriasis. Within 10 days of her diagnosis, Emma’s body was “covered in skin plaques” that spread from her upper to lower back, to her stomach, & down her legs & arms.

“I end up shedding skin plaques all over my clothes & people who I meet.

“My skin plaques start on my upper back, & then move to my lower back, my stomach, down my legs, & down my arms. My flare-ups are really severe. One spot can become 2,000 spots within 10 days!” said Emma.

“The disease has affected my relationships & altered my personality. I’ve had many depressive episodes over the past 27 years of living with severe chronic plaque psoriasis.

“It has kept me from being in long-term romantic relationships, & has made me feel insecure in my relationships,” Emma said.

“People also tend to be mistakenly concerned about catching my disease, & are therefore, hesitant to make physical contact with me.”

After trialling a plethora of “creams, lotions & potions” to help control her severe chronic plaque psoriasis over the past 27 years, Emma has only recently, found relief, although her disease still continues to “fluctuate, & occasionally flare.”

Reflecting on this month’s PBS listing for a new treatment for severe chronic plaque psoriasis, Emma said, “The availability of another treatment designed to effectively manage disease flare-ups, is great news for our patient community.”

To learn more about severe chronic plaque psoriasis, watch our pieces to camera featuring A/Prof Shumack & Emma, below!

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