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 significant others."
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 www.makingconnections.info.
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 across indications.
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:
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 (888-436-2735).
Amgen is a global biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and markets important human therapeutics based on advances in cellular and molecular biology.
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Wyeth, has leading products in the areas of women's health care, cardiovascular disease, central nervous system, inflammation, hemophilia, oncology and vaccines. Wyeth is one of the world's largest research-driven pharmaceutical and health care products companies. It is a leader in the discovery, development, manufacturing, and marketing of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, biotechnology products and non-prescription medicines that improve the quality of life for people worldwide. The Company's major divisions include Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Wyeth Consumer Healthcare and Fort Dodge Animal Health.
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Andrea Rothschild, 818-681-8660 (media)
Jenifer Antonacci, 484-865-5220 (media)