Jolie, the youthful dancer showcased in the Dupixent commercial, achieved recognition following her appearance. However, despite the ensuing controversy surrounding the advertisement, its influence on the commercial triumph of the medication seems unaffected. The ad played a pivotal role in bolstering sales, propelling the revenue of the eczema medication to an astounding $8.7 billion in the previous year. This notable achievement reflects a remarkable 40% surge from the sales statistics of 2021.
During this period, concerns were raised by activists who expressed unease over the portrayal of young girls in the advertisement. The ad featured these girls in suggestive attire, engaging in poses with potential sexual connotations. While these concerns ignited a dialogue about the portrayal of youth in media, they did not appear to significantly impact the success of the medication’s sales trajectory. How did this happen?
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition characterized by inflammation, itching, and redness of the skin. It is a common condition that tends to run in families and is often associated with other allergic conditions like asthma and hay fever. The exact cause of eczema is not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with eczema tend to have a weakened skin barrier, which allows irritants and allergens to penetrate the skin more easily, leading to inflammation and itching. Scratching the affected areas can further worsen the condition, leading to a cycle of itching and scratching that can be difficult to break.
Eczema is a relatively common skin condition. It’s estimated that around 15-20% of children and 1-3% of adults worldwide are affected by eczema. However, these numbers can vary by region and demographic factors. Eczema tends to be more common in developed countries and urban areas. Until a few years ago, Heather Sullivan’s 14-year-old son, Sawyer, had been grappling with eczema throughout his entire life. As a mere infant, his delicate skin would be engulfed in intensely itchy rashes that would sometimes even bleed and ooze due to his uncontrollable scratching. Sawyer’s family pursued numerous avenues to find relief – they experimented with steroid creams, employed wet wraps, immersed him in bleach baths, and applied an assortment of lotions. Their dedication even extended to replacing the carpet and renovating the sheetrock in their home, all in hopes of eliminating potential triggers. At 15 months old, Sawyer embarked on a course of cyclosporine, a potent immunosuppressive drug typically reserved for organ transplant recipients. This approach did yield results, effectively clearing his skin, but the medication carried the shadow of potentially perilous long-term side effects. Heather Sullivan recollects how doctors displayed a degree of shock and concern at the amount of medication her child was on at such a tender age. Nonetheless, the resurgence of his eczema was swift and formidable as soon as he ceased the medication.
The advent of the novel eczema drug known as Dupixent a few years ago heralded a rapid and dramatic transformation for Sawyer. Almost immediately, within the span of a week, the incessant itching and the telltale redness began to abate. His overall condition improved, both in terms of how he felt and how he appeared. The once all-consuming presence of eczema in their lives began to recede, retreating into the background.
Dupixent (dupilumab) is approved for the treatment of certain inflammatory conditions, particularly moderate-to-severe eczema and certain types of asthma. It is classified as a monoclonal antibody and is administered as an injection under the skin.
Dupixent works by targeting a specific pathway in the immune system that is involved in the development of inflammatory responses. It is classified as a monoclonal antibody, which is a type of biologic medication designed to target specific molecules in the body. Dupixent specifically targets two proteins called interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-13 (IL-13), which play a key role in allergic and inflammatory reactions.
In conditions like moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (eczema) and certain types of asthma, the immune system is overactive and triggers excessive inflammation. Dupixent works by blocking the effects of IL-4 and IL-13, which are involved in the inflammatory processes associated with these conditions. By inhibiting these proteins, Dupixent helps to reduce inflammation, itching, redness, and other symptoms.
Dupixent has shown remarkable effectiveness in clinical trials for both atopic dermatitis and asthma, it has been proven to significantly improve the symptoms of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis in both adults and children. Clinical trials have demonstrated that Dupixent can lead to reduced itching, better skin clearance, and improved quality of life for individuals living with eczema. Many patients who were unresponsive to other treatments have found relief with Dupixent.
Medical professionals who specialize in treating severe eczema now distinguish between the eras before and after Dupixent: “It altered the eczema landscape irrevocably,” remarks Brett King, a dermatologist affiliated with Yale. At present, an array of half a dozen innovative treatments exists for this skin condition, all sharing a common mechanism of action that suppresses a particular biological pathway implicated in eczema. Moreover, numerous additional treatments are currently undergoing clinical trials. Unlike their predecessors, these new medications are characterized by precise targeting and, in numerous instances, striking efficacy. Dupixent’s development is the result of collaborative efforts between Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi.