Psoriasis is a challenging and misunderstood skin condition that effects over 850,000 Canadians living with the diagnosis. With dedicated funding from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, a Swiss based company with five locations across Canada and the research of Dr. Richard Langley of Dalhousie Medical School there may soon be a better treatment available. In July 2014, the Novartis sponsorship gave Dr. Langley and his team of researchers the opportunity to conduct a pivotal study on the effects of a new drug being tested on psoriasis patients. The results, which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine provided an encouraging new treatment for psoriasis sufferers and identified a key protein that causes the skin condition.

“There are some very innovative researchers coming from Atlantic Canada and our goal is to support them in our joint pursuit of improving the quality of life of Canadians,” said Jason Brown, Novartis’ Health Policy and Patient Access Lead for Atlantic Canada.

The current treatment options for patients with psoriasis are limited and many live with painful, itchy lesions and experience damaging psychological effects from feeling stigmatized by the condition. Of those diagnosed with psoriasis, up to 50 per cent say they are dissatisfied with their current therapies – a statistic Dr. Langley is trying to change. Through his new drug he is able to provide a medication where approximately 90 per cent of patients are having a significant improvement in their skin.

The life sciences sector in Nova Scotia is well positioned as a leading industry with top-tier researchers and research facilities including a $70 million Life Sciences Research Institute. However, further support programs dedicated to fostering more collaborations between leading researchers and big industry in the province is still needed to continue to attract international investment.

The collaboration between Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Dr. Langley will soon have its full impact on the health care system. The drug, which is injectable, was approved by Health Canada earlier this year and will be available by prescription for patients shortly.

About Novartis
• Novartis is a leading pharmaceutical company dedicated to discovering, developing and marketing innovative products to prevent and cure diseases, to ease suffering and enhance the quality of life of Canadians.
• Novartis recently launched a psoriasis awareness campaign with artist Cindy Lauper.
• In 2013 Novartis invested more than $118 million dollars in Canadian R&D and Community Investments with greater than 141 Canadian projects in clinical development.
• Currently, Novartis employs close to 130 Atlantic Canadians.

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