Merck & Co has teamed up with PatientsLikeMe, the US-based online platform for the exchange of health data, to leverage real-life insights from psoriasis patients into better management and treatment of the chronic autoimmune disease.

PatientsLikeMe will work directly with clinical researchers and epidemiologists at Merck & Co to analyse and interpret patient-reported data on psoriasis. The collaboration is aimed at evaluating the impact of psoriasis on patients and informing “a novel approach to improving outcomes”, the partners noted.

The online network has an active community of psoriasis patients, with nearly 2,000 people sharing data and stories on living with and treating the disease through health profiles, forum postings, journal entries and surveys.  

Merck & Co co-markets with Johnson & Johnson the monoclonal antibody Remicade (infliximab), and one of its indications is for adults with chronic severe plaque psoriasis.  

The company’s R&D pipeline includes MK-3222, an anti-interleukin-23 monoclonal antibody candidate under development for the treatment of psoriasis and scheduled to enter Phase III clinical trials this year.

More than 7.5 million people are estimated to have psoriasis in the United States.

Patient-centred care

“Effective use of health information provides the path forward to patient-centered care and personalised medicine,” commented Dr Sachin Jain, chief medical information and innovation officer at Merck & Co.

Jain described the collaboration with PatientsLikeMe as “an important part of Merck's strategy to establish and apply innovative solutions that improve disease management and enhance the patient experience”.

According to Ben Heywood, president and co-founder of PatientsLikeMe, a broader and “more human” perspective on psoriasis will help both patients and their doctors to understand the true nature of the disease.

“We’re excited to collaborate with patients and Merck to uncover insights about the disease that may lead to better approaches for patients managing their condition day-to-day; providers creating care plans; and researchers developing treatments,” Heywood said.