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Prioritizing awareness and access for people living with a rare disease

Posted by
Charl van Zyl, EVP Neurology Solutions & Head of Europe/International Markets

There are 300 million people in the world today living with a rare disease. Over 6,000 rare diseases are characterized by a broad diversity of disorders and symptoms that vary not only from disease to disease but also from patient-to-patient suffering from the same disease. Almost half of these diseases are neurological, and 90% of rare childhood disorders have major neurological effects.

However, with each rare disease affecting so few people, these conditions are often overlooked. The resulting lack of awareness of rare diseases remains a problem, with up to 90% of these conditions considered serious or life-threatening. In addition, although we have made tremendous progress in advancing innovation for rare diseases, 95% of rare diseases still do not have a treatment option, representing a significant unmet need.

More than ever, it’s essential that attention is prioritized on rare diseases.

This Rare Disease Day, we’re joining the global movement to raise awareness and knowledge about rare diseases. We fully support the mission of this important milestone, promoting equity in social opportunity, healthcare, and access to diagnosis and therapies for people living with a rare disease. For UCB, these are all driving forces behind our commitment to the rare disease community.

There are so many areas where industry can play a role in helping to create change for people living with rare disease.

Increasing equity for people living with a rare disease in one of our priorities. It’s imperative that those living with a rare disease have equitable access to health, social care, diagnosis, and treatment. As part of our mission to address this, we’re conducting a health economics (HECON) report to better define the burden of illness of generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG) to help address these challenges and help make change for patients.

At UCB, we strive toward faster clinical trial processes in order to get new treatments out as soon as possible; work on collecting data from rare disease patients so that their “real world” experience is represented and appreciated; involve patient expertise more closely during the development process so we can listen, learn and adapt; plus much more – all with one goal: improving knowledge around these unique conditions while helping relieve some of the pressures they put on individuals, families, healthcare systems, and society alike.

UCB has a growing portfolio – both approved and investigational/early research – in rare diseases including Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, gMG, MOG, TK2d and CDKL5 deficiency disorder, and other rare epilepsies. All these conditions have unique patient populations with their own needs and challenges and will treat them all with the respect and care they deserve.

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