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AbbVie makes a difference for Canadians living with autoimmune diseases

Millions of Canadians live with an autoimmune condition. These serious chronic diseases occur when the immune system attacks the body it is meant to protect, seriously impacting quality of life. There are more than 100 known autoimmune diseases, with the most common including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease.

Building on our decade of impact as a global leader in immunology, AbbVie is passionate about transforming the lives of Canadians by discovering and delivering innovative medicines that solve serious health issues today and address the medical challenges of tomorrow. We have several therapeutic areas of focus, including immunology, oncology, neuroscience and eye care, and we are committed to eliminating the burden of autoimmune conditions so more people can live without limitations.

Beyond the development of therapies, we also support a wide range of initiatives to advance the science as well as improve the care and experience of patients. Initiatives range from the funding of student scholarships, to partnering with physicians and associations, to promoting health equity and supporting patients beyond medications through a patient support program. 

Innovation driven by diversity

AbbVie is currently running more than 240 clinical trials, of which 150 are in immunology. Outside the United States, Canada is AbbVie’s number-one clinical trial contributor, with nearly 400 clinicians and more than 4,000 patients participating.  

“AbbVie’s efforts go beyond drug development,” says Dr. Stephanie Keeling, rheumatologist and professor of medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. “Their support of research efforts extends beyond the immediate needs of their therapies, providing clinicians with a base of knowledge that is rich and broad — and promising.”

Dr. Keeling is also part of an AbbVie-led initiative focused on advancing the standards of care in rheumatoid arthritis globally. “We are focusing on recognizing and improving diverse health-care access and delivery across provinces by ensuring more rheumatologists are practising a treat-to-target strategy, in which treatment decisions are shared between patient and physician. The goal is to help more patients reach remission.”

“AbbVie’s mission centres on providing therapies for diseases in which there is an unmet need, and for which there are few therapies available,” says dermatologist Dr. Kim A. Papp, who has been involved in numerous AbbVie clinical trials and educational outreach for more than 25 years. 

Going beyond therapies

An example of AbbVie’s efforts to better inform equitable, diverse and inclusive dermatological care in Canada and around the world, is the recently established, first-of-its-kind AbbVie Chair in Ethnodermatology at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at University of Toronto. This Chair will address systemic inequities in clinical care, by providing advanced training to the next generation of clinicians to improve diagnosis, care and outcomes across ethnicities. This is important because accurate and timely diagnosis of skin conditions in people of colour is currently more difficult, as deeper skin tones does not reveal the true severity of conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Delayed diagnoses and treatment can result in more permanent scarring and discolouration than seen in people with less melanin.

Another meaningful initiative is our sponsorship of the AbbVie IBD Scholarship program run by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, which helps students living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) fulfill their academic ambitions.

“As a patient-centric organization, AbbVie’s impact is significant,” says Sara Ghandeharian, manager of patient programs and evaluation at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. “Since the AbbVie IBD Scholarship Program’s inception in 2012, it has helped fulfill the dreams of more than 130 students. Through AbbVie’s support, we also recently introduced a Wellness Series in response to a growing need to educate young people in managing all aspects of well-being, including mental health, and help strengthen knowledge on a broad range of IBD topics.”

AbbVie also supports Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s Promoting Access and Care through Centres of Excellence (PACE) network, which brings together leading IBD centres from across Canada to improve health outcomes and access for those in rural areas, address gaps in care, and develop solutions that can create lasting change in the public health-care system.

Driven to make a difference

“AbbVie is powered by its people who are deeply passionate about moving science forward for those living with autoimmune diseases, and we are continuously challenging the status quo to improve care. Our colleagues work incredibly hard for the benefit of patients who need these treatments, and our greatest reward is knowing we have made a difference,” says Marie-Claude Laliberté, a medical advisor in rheumatology at AbbVie.

“What stands out during my 10 years with AbbVie is that high-level of collaboration with the medical community and patient organizations, and our focus on innovation to improve the paradigm of care. All of us are very excited about the future of immunology,” she adds.

The true benefit of AbbVie’s broad range of support is its impact on people’s lives, says Dr. Papp. “That’s what it is all about. It all comes down to the greater good for the needs of patients and care providers.”