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World AS Day 2024 - spotlighting the signs and symptoms of axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA): How UCB works with the axSpA community

Posted by
Zsófia Bakonyi, Patient Strategy Rheumatology

On World AS Day 2024, UCB reaffirms its commitment to supporting people living with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA). This year's theme, "Signs and Symptoms", highlights the importance of early recognition and diagnosis, to positively impact the lives of those affected by this chronic inflammatory disease through effective collaborations.

We are proud to work with organizations like the Axial Spondyloarthritis International Federation (ASIF) to raise awareness of AS to educate and engage patients and to support rheumatologists through medical education initiatives. axSpA can be very painful, with a significant, limiting impact on people’s mobility – yet the average time to diagnosis isn’t until seven years after symptom onset. Common symptoms include back pain, fatigue, stiffness worsening after inactivity, and associated conditions like uveitis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease.  Empowering patients to recognize and talk to their healthcare providers (HCPs) about these symptoms may help lead to earlier diagnoses and disease control, helping to prevent irreversible structural damage.

Through research, partnerships, and medical education, UCB strives to reduce the diagnostic delay for axSpA globally, acting on the findings of ASIF’s global ‘Delay to Diagnosis’ report. We will do this with partners like the UK’s National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS), through comprehensive public outreach and working with clinicians on axSpA MRI training programs, aiming to achieve their ambition of a ‘Gold Standard’ time to diagnosis of just one year for axSpA by 2025.

We are addressing other gaps in the rheumatology patient journey by supporting physicians through digital health platforms. In our FASTRAX program, we use new technologies to educate healthcare providers, with ambitions to reduce instances of primary care physicians not recognizing inflammatory pain; to prevent people living with axSpA from being lost through incorrect assessment and triage; and to improve access to expert rheumatology care.

Our Europe-wide Rheumacensus program is leading the way in elevating the standard of care for patients with axSpA by highlighting unmet care needs. We collaborate with HCPs, payors and patients themselves to gain a holistic view of the situation in rheumatology care and have reached consensus on areas requiring improvement. The results from this program have recently been published in Rheumatology and Therapy, laying a framework for rheumatologists to make real, positive changes in their clinics.

For HCPs specifically, we work with clinical experts to create a wealth of medical education resources like RheuMuseum, to support awareness of the clinical manifestations of axSpA among US HCPs, and the UCB Med Hub, a specialized platform that makes it easy for HCPs to stay aware of the latest advancements in immunology and find ready-to-use resources for their day-to-day practice.

On World AS Day and every day, UCB remains dedicated to serving the axSpA community through pioneering research, raising disease awareness, and amplifying patient voices.

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