At the age of 35, Andrew Gosse was tired of living. A psoriasis patient for more than half his life, he told his wife, “This disease has ravaged me. I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried every medication the dermatologist could prescribe; I’ve tried all the cures on the Internet.”

For Gosse, who was first diagnosed when he was 17, nothing was working. The illness started out with a small silvery scale that appeared on his left elbow. It became progressively worse, to the point where his entire scalp was covered with a nearly two-centimetre scale, “solid like a helmet. It was under my nails, on my elbows, on my face, in my groin and on my back. At night, I used to have to scratch myself from head to toe with a steel brush and pour vinegar on—because you can sleep with your skin on fire, but you can’t sleep with the itch. In the morning, my clothes and bedclothes would be stuck to me, and I would have to tear them off.”

In 2001, he took part in the first of what would end up to be nine clinical trials. In 2007, 16 weeks after he began the last drug trial for a biologic therapy, the psoriasis disappeared. Today, his illness is 99% under control.

A realtor from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Gosse, as founder and president of the Canadian Psoriasis Network, now seeks to help others with psoriasis and raise awareness and understanding of the illness, as a speaker, doing media outreach, and as a patient advocate.

Until recently, psoriasis was considered a skin disease, Gosse noted. Now, however, it’s defined as a non-contagious chronic inflammatory autoimmune whole-life disease that encompasses physical, mental, emotional, social and economic factors. Psoriasis affects all of the body’s organs, with associated comorbidities that could include everything from psoriatic arthritis to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, depression and immune-related conditions such as Crohn’s and lymphoma.

Research has shown that a person who develops psoriasis by age 25 has a ninefold greater risk of suffering a heart attack. If that person were treated effectively with medication that addresses their individual situation, they would reduce their risk by 82%.

Gosse encourages everyone—patients, caregivers, employers and support networks—to look at this disease holistically. Education and proper diagnosis are primary when it comes to psoriasis, an illness that should be treated and managed by a specialist, he said.

Effective treatment is also critical. “You will see lives transformed. This is all about wanting to have the disease controlled effectively, so that we can work effectively.”

All the articles from the event can be found in our special section: 2015 Calgary Drug Trends Summit Coverage.

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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