"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Harvard Health Ad Watch: An upbeat ad for a psoriasis treatment

Psoriasis is a chronic disease through which skin cells divide rapidly, causing rough, red, scaly patches on the skin. Plaque psoriasis is probably the most common form: the affected skin is sharply defined, swollen patches (plaques) with silvery or white scales, often near the elbows or on the calves and trunk.

The reason behind psoriasis is unknown, but there are lots of treatment options. You've likely seen a flashy, cheery ad for one in all these treatments, a drug called Skyrizi. It has been in heavy rotation and, in 2020, hit number 4 on the A-list. Top 10 list for ad spend by a drug company.

Splashing in blue water

A lady in a washing suit steps down from the dock and jumps into the water with several friends. There's plenty of smiling and splashing. A voiceover says “I have moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. Now, Skyrise. Three out of four people had 90% clear skin in four months after just two doses.”

Then, the voice-over goes into warning mode: “Skyrizi can increase your risk of infections and decrease your ability to fight them. Your doctor should screen you for infections and tuberculosis before treatment.” Check along with your doctor if you may have symptoms akin to an infection or fever, sweating, muscle aches, or cough, or if you happen to plan to receive or have recently received a vaccine. Is.”

As these warnings are delivered, we're treated to blaring pop music — “Nothing is everything,” one woman sings — while attractive young men wade through the water.

“Ask your doctor about Skyrizi,” a voice instructed. Did I mention an airplane is emblazoned with a drug logo? I assume it's putting the “sky” within the Skyrise.

What is Skyrizi?

Skyrizi (risankizumab) is an injectable drug that antagonizes interleukin-23, a chemical messenger closely involved in the event of psoriasis. The standard dose is 2 injections to begin, followed by two injections once a month after one month, after which two injections every three months.

Did you catch that “injectable” part? This is the place no One shot if you happen to missed the purpose while watching the industrial, it's not your fault. The word “injection” appears once, written in faint letters on the very end of the industrial.

By the way in which, the FDA has approved this drug just for moderate to severe. no Mild – plaque psoriasis. The approved studies enrolled individuals with psoriasis on at the very least 10% of their skin and on two separate measures of severity.

The ad becomes valid.

  • The ad states that 75% of individuals with moderate to severe psoriasis experienced 90% clearance of their rash inside 4 months after just two doses of Skyrise. It reflects the outcomes of research studies (Like this one) which led to the drug's approval.
  • Recommendations about screening for infections (including tuberculosis) and telling your doctor if you may have received a recent vaccine are appropriate and needs to be standard practice. By reducing the flexibility to fight infection, this drug could make an existing infection worse. This can reduce the good thing about certain vaccines, or increase the chance of infection when an individual receives a certain sort of vaccine. Live attenuated vaccine.

And the theme song? People with visible psoriasis often cover their skin as a result of embarrassment or stigma. itching shouldn’t have A contagious infection or a mirrored image of poor health, but other people may react as whether it is. Therefore, an efficient treatment could potentially allow some to avoid hiding and show more skin: it means “everything” to someone affected by psoriasis “nothing”. Thus, a theme song is born.

What else do you should know?

Certain things about this commercial could also be vague or incomplete, including:

  • Currently, each dose of Skyrizi is definitely two injections. Therefore, a more accurate way of summarizing its effectiveness is that improvement occurred inside 4 months After 4 injections (as a substitute of “just two doses”).
  • Like most latest injectable drugs, it's quite expensive: a yr's supply Can cost around $70,000.. The drugmaker offers a patient assistance program for individuals with low income or limited medical health insurance, but not everyone seems to be eligible. Health insurance policy typically require a prescription out of your doctor for medications like Skyrizi, and your insurer may resolve to not cover it. Even if covered, this pre-authorization process can delay starting medications, which might still be costly as a result of copays and/or deductibles.
  • Not to say the various other options for treating psoriasis, a few of that are much cheaper. These include drugs that don’t require injections (akin to oral methotrexate or apremelist) and UV light therapy (phototherapy). And there are other injectable drugs. So, ask your doctor about one of the best options for you.

The bottom line

Some people appreciate the knowledge provided by drug advertisements. Others favor a ban on such promoting, as is the case in most other countries. And recently, two advocacy groups asked the FDA Don't allow drug ads to play music When the risks of drug negative effects are presented, arguing that it prevents users from specializing in this necessary information.

Since these ads probably aren't going away anytime soon, remember that they could spin information in a positive light and omit other necessary information altogether. So, be skeptical and ask questions. Get your medication information out of your doctor or one other unbiased, authoritative source, not from an organization selling a product.

Regardless of how you are feeling about medical promoting, it's hard to hate the Skyrise theme song. Feel free to sing along.

Follow me on Twitter. @RobShmerling