‘Life-changing’: Calls for eczema drug to be PBS listed to help with mental health – The Sydney Morning Herald

Posted: February 29, 2020 at 10:52 pm

Founder and director of Eczema Support Australia Melanie Funk said the drug should be considered a suicide prevention measure, particularly for people who have not had success using traditional treatment methods for their eczema.

"I've seen this with some individuals I've met with compassionate access; they've told me they didn't realise what having a life meant until they went on Dupixent," she said.

"Prior to that they were barely surviving, let alone thriving, both mentally and physically."

Gayle Ross, a dermatologist who heads the severe eczema clinic at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, said eczema was much more than just itchy skin, and mental health conditions were a recognised part of it.

"I think a huge number of patients with severe eczema do have significant anxiety and depression related to their skin; [it] feeds back into the not sleeping, not feeling good about yourself and just the hopelessness of having a chronic skin condition that has not been effectively treated," she said.

Standard treatments for eczema range from lifestyle changes to avoid triggers, cortisone creams, and then immunosuppressant tablets.

The issue with those tablets is they can come with serious side-effects, Dr Ross said.

Dupixent is a newer drug that targets specific areas of the immune system that are overactive. That means the drug is not only safer than traditional tablets but it's also "dramatically more effective".

"It has really been life changing for patients who've been on it overseas or the small number in Australia who have had access to it on compassionate grounds," she said.

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Ms Field has had compassionate access to the drug since November 2018, and after initially being reluctant to try any more treatments, she said it turned out to be an "absolute miracle".

While little things like washing her hair in the shower had been great, Ms Field said spending more time outdoors with her five-year-old daughter Zoe had also been amazing.

"She's just like, 'You can do more stuff with me now,' " Ms Field said.

"This is seriously a life-changing drug. I can't really put into words how much it's given me."

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'Life-changing': Calls for eczema drug to be PBS listed to help with mental health - The Sydney Morning Herald

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