The financial burden and ineffective treatment represent Malaysia’s most significant challenges in treating psoriasis. Findings from the “Psoriasis Patient Access Education Survey”, conducted in August 2022 by an international joint survey on psoriasis patients in Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia, revealed that 53 per cent of respondents in Malaysia identified financial burden, followed by ineffective treatment (49 per cent) and inconvenient/unacceptable waiting time to see a healthcare provider (39 per cent) as key challenges.
According to Psoriasis Association of Malaysia (PAM) President Major (Rtd) Eugene Cross: “The patient survey findings are in line with the feedback we receive from our members. Among our members who have been affected seriously with widespread skin lesions or autoimmune arthritis symptoms – a category of medicine called biologics can provide adequate relief for the majority. However, this therapy is not a cure; patients need ongoing treatment. Moreover, biologics treatment is costly – estimated to vary between RM30,000 and RM50,000 annually.”
The continued failure to address these funding and regulatory issues has resulted in a lower proportion of Malaysian patients (14 per cent) receiving the latest treatment compared to their counterparts in Korea (37 per cent) and Hong Kong (55 per cent).
The findings of this patient survey were released in conjunction with the World Psoriasis Day (WPD) celebration in Malaysia on Oct 30, 2022.
Psoriasis is a debilitating auto-immune and chronic inflammatory disease affecting the skin and joints. In Malaysia, about 23,800 patients with psoriasis were recorded in the National Registry from October 2007 – December 2019, although it is broadly estimated that the disease affects around 300,000 Malaysians. This year’s WPD theme is “United We Tackle Mental Health” since mental health is increasingly recognised as a significant part of living with psoriatic disease.
“The public may not realise that many psoriasis patients are not only affected physically, but emotional scarring is also common among patients. Combining the mental health and financial aspect with the physical symptoms all add up to a patient’s heavy burden.
“Much needs to be done for psoriasis patients in Malaysia. PAM hopes to continue finding long-term solutions with the relevant health players to address the plight of psoriasis patients in our country,” said Dr K Thiruchelvam, Deputy President of PAM.
Several activities were organised- including a fashion show, photography exhibition and skin clinics – to highlight public awareness of this skin condition. The event was supported by a number of organisations, including Boehringer-Ingelheim, Novartis, AbbVie, Leo Pharma, Johnson and Johnson, Fresenius Kabi, Suu Balm, MooGoo, Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Hospital Ampang, MACP, RPM, PPM.