Catwalk Beauty Vendela To Help Educate Public About Effects of Psoriasis Through ``Making Connections'' Health Education Campaign
NEW YORK--May 20, 2004--A legendary beauty who
has graced the cover of more than 300 magazines worldwide, today
revealed how mild flare ups of the skin disorder psoriasis affected
her modeling career. Vendela's own challenges with the condition have
allowed her to empathize with her husband who lives with severe
psoriasis. To raise awareness of psoriasis, a condition that affects
more than 4.5 million Americans, supermodel Vendela is introducing
"Making Connections." This new health education campaign will uncover
the physical and emotional aspects of this skin disease and will offer
individuals resources to help them cope with their psoriasis. For
people with moderate to severe psoriasis, the disease can be very
serious and potentially debilitating.
"Most people think psoriasis is either just an annoying skin rash
or a contagious disease. What people don't realize is that the disease
can affect how people react to you and may cause someone with
psoriasis to feel ashamed or self-conscious," said Vendela. "I've seen
what severe psoriasis can do to someone physically and emotionally.
I'm proud to be involved in the 'Making Connections' campaign because
I want to educate people about the disease in an effort to
de-stigmatize the condition and help people with psoriasis find and
access important resources."
Vendela's personal experience with psoriasis allowed her to more
easily empathize with her husband, who struggles with moderate to
severe psoriasis. At its worst, painful lesions covered a large amount
of his body. His psoriasis has made everyday activities such as
brushing his hair difficult and made it challenging for him to feel
comfortable in situations where his skin was exposed, such as when he
went to the beach with his family. Vendela and her husband found that
open communication throughout their eight-year marriage helped manage
the effects of psoriasis and even taught their young daughters the
myths and facts about the disease.
New Survey Highlights Impact of Psoriasis
Many people do not understand what psoriasis is, which can affect
how they react to someone with the disease. His or her reactions,
although unintentional, may cause someone with psoriasis to feel
ashamed or self-conscious. A new Harris poll surveyed people with
psoriasis, partners of people with psoriasis and the general
population to uncover the impact of psoriasis. According to the
survey, of those who do not have psoriasis and who are familiar with
the condition, the vast majority (78 percent) indicate they would only
be "somewhat" or "not at all likely" to become romantically involved
with someone who had visible symptoms of the condition. When they were
asked why, the most commonly stated reason is that they would be
"repulsed" or "embarrassed" by the potential partner's appearance.
"Even though people may be familiar with psoriasis, they often
don't know how to react to someone who has visible symptoms, such as
scaly, red skin, which can be humiliating for the person with the
disease," said Helen Torok, M.D., clinical investigator, consultant at
Medina General Hospital in Ohio and Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital in
Ohio. "Through the 'Making Connections' program we hope to educate
people about the impact of the disease to increase understanding and
help change public perceptions of this disease."
Findings from the survey indicate that having psoriasis can
considerably detract from involvement with others and, in turn, the
resulting detachment can notably contribute to a poor quality of life
for many of those with the condition. Of those people with psoriasis
who reported having a low quality of life, as many as 43 percent agree
that "nobody has really wanted to be involved with me" during the past
12 months. These feelings of isolation can have a devastating affect
on a person's view on relationships. Nearly 40 percent of people with
severe psoriasis reported feeling "on their own" a lot of the time and
simply gave up the prospect of pursuing a romantic relationship.
The survey also revealed that those with severe psoriasis are
three times as likely as those without psoriasis to "strongly agree"
that "I have felt ashamed about how I look" during the past 12 months.
Among those with severe psoriasis, 50 percent report that during the
past 12 months the condition has caused them to go out of their way to
cover a psoriasis-related breakout.
Importance of Communication and Proper Treatment
"Over the years, I've learned firsthand the psychological toll
that psoriasis can take, and the lowered self-esteem that so often
goes with it. Living with the unpredictability of psoriasis, in
particular, can have a significant emotional impact," said Robert H.
Reiner, Ph.D., executive director, Behavioral Associates and faculty
member in the Department of Psychiatry of New York University Medical
Center. "As a psychologist, I encourage my patients to build a support
network of people who understand what they are going through and to
speak openly about their disease with their family, friends and
For many people with psoriasis, open communication coupled with
successful treatment can help lift some of the physical burden. As a
person's skin begins to clear, they can find a sense of relief and may
feel more comfortable doing things they enjoy. Traditional treatments,
which include creams, light therapy and prescription shampoos, can be
helpful; however, they tend to be extremely inconvenient,
time-consuming and can be inconsistently effective.
Vendela's husband is finding relief from his skin symptoms of
severe psoriasis with a new breakthrough biologic medication called
Enbrel(R) (etanercept). ENBREL is designed to work with the body's
immune system to treat psoriasis from the inside out.
"ENBREL represents a significant advance for the treatment of
psoriasis. I have seen many patients experience a metamorphosis after
successful treatment," said Dr. Helen Torok. "Once their skin begins
to clear, patients are reconnecting with friends, enjoy going out and
doing the things they felt they weren't comfortable doing before."
About Making Connections
"Making Connections" is a disease education program, supported by
Amgen Inc. and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, dedicated to educating those
living with psoriasis and their loved ones about recent advancements
in psoriasis treatments. The "Making Connections" program also
consists of 12 in-person events around the country designed to further
this education. The information at these events and on the "Making
Connections" Web site can help people make more informed decisions
about dealing with and managing psoriasis. Resources and more
information about Vendela's personal story are available by visiting
About the Survey
Harris Interactive conducted online interviews within the U.S.
between March 15 and April 7, 2004, with 1,545 people -- 432 adults
with psoriasis, 276 partners of adults with psoriasis and 837 adults
without psoriasis who are demographically matched to the adults with
psoriasis. The data for adults with psoriasis and adults without
psoriasis were propensity score weighted. The data for partners of
adults with psoriasis remain unweighted.
ENBREL is the only fully human TNF receptor approved to reduce
signs and symptoms, improve physical function, and inhibit the
progression of structural damage in patients with moderately to
severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and to reduce the signs and
symptoms and inhibit the progression of structural damage of active
arthritis in patients with psoriatic arthritis. ENBREL is the only
biologic therapy approved for first-line treatment of RA patients, and
can be used alone or in combination with methotrexate. It is approved
to reduce the signs and symptoms of moderately to severely active
polyarticular-course juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) in patients
who have had an inadequate response to one or more disease-modifying
antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). It is also the first biologic approved
to treat the signs and symptoms in patients with active ankylosing
spondylitis (AS). ENBREL is indicated for the treatment of adult
patients (18 years or older) with chronic moderate to severe plaque
psoriasis who are candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy.
ENBREL has been used by more than 234,000 patients worldwide
ENBREL acts by binding TNF, one of the dominant inflammatory
cytokines or regulatory proteins that play an important role in both
normal immune function and the cascade of reactions that causes the
inflammatory process of RA, JRA, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and
AS. The binding of ENBREL to TNF renders the bound TNF biologically
inactive, resulting in significant reduction in inflammatory activity.
Since the product was first introduced, the following have been
reported in patients using ENBREL:
- Serious Infections
- Many occurred in people prone to infection, such as those
with advanced or poorly controlled diabetes.
- Some serious infections were fatal.
- Rare cases of tuberculosis.
- What to do/Not to do
- Do not start ENBREL if you have an infection or are
allergic to ENBREL or its components.
- Tell your doctor if you are prone to infection.
- Stop ENBREL if a serious infection occurs.
- Contact your doctor if you have questions about ENBREL or
develop an infection.
- Tell your doctor if you have ever been treated for heart
- Serious nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis,
seizures, or inflammation of the nerves of the eyes
- Tell your doctor if you have ever had any of these
disorders or if you develop them after starting ENBREL.
- Rare reports of serious blood disorders (some fatal).
- Contact your doctor immediately if you develop symptoms
such as persistent fever, bruising, bleeding, or paleness.
- In medical studies of all TNF-inhibitors, a higher rate of
lymphoma (a type of cancer) was seen compared to the general
population; however, the risk of lymphoma may be up to several
fold higher in RA and psoriasis patients. The role of
TNF-inhibitors in the development of lymphoma is unknown.
- The incidence of other cancers has not increased with exposure
to ENBREL and is similar to the expected rate.
- ENBREL can also cause injection site reactions.
- In a medical study of patients with JRA, infections,
headaches, abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea occurred more
frequently than in adults.
- The kinds of infections reported were generally mild and
similar to those usually seen in children.
- Other serious adverse reactions were reported rarely,
including serious infections (2 percent) and
depression/personality disorder (1 percent).
Amgen and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Wyeth, market
ENBREL in North America. Wyeth markets ENBREL outside of North
America. Immunex Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Amgen,
manufactures ENBREL. Additional information about ENBREL, including
full Prescribing Information, can be found on the Web site sponsored
by the companies at www.enbrel.com or by calling toll free 888-4ENBREL
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Andrea Rothschild, 818-681-8660 (media)
Jenifer Antonacci, 484-865-5220 (media)