Almirall, Happify partner on digital tool for psoriasis mental health

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It’s well recognised that people with psoriasis can develop depression or anxiety, particularly in moderate or severe cases where a sizeable part of the body can have skin lesions. Now, drugmaker Almirall and digital health firm Happify are working on a tool to support mental health in these patients.

Almirall is a specialist in psoriasis therapies with drugs like Skilarence (dimethyl fumarate) and Ilumetri (tildrakizumab), while Happify’s app is designed to drive away negative thoughts through the use of games, mindfulness exercises and other activities such as carrying out acts of kindness.

The two partners say they will develop a specific version of the app for people with psoriasis – called Claro – that will use “cognitive behavioural therapy, positive psychology and mindfulness” to improve the wellbeing of psoriasis patients.

A meta-analysis of clinical studies published in 2014 estimates that 20%-30% of patients with moderate to severe psoriasis suffer from mental health issues, and are more likely to also be treated with antidepressant drugs

Claro is expected to be available in Spain, UK, Italy and France before the end of the year, and will be made available as part of Almirall’s psoriasis patient support programme.

Happify’s main app – which provides some content for free and can be unlocked completely with a monthly subscription – has more than half a million downloads on Google’s Play store and is also available on Apple devices and PCs.

Last year, the New York-based digital health specialist announced the launch of Kopa for Psoriasis, one of a series of planned management platforms intended to provide support and a community for people with chronic conditions.

“This partnership will allow us to provide patients with psoriasis a solution based on a clinically validated positive psychology platform,” said Francesca Domenech Wuttke, Almirall’s chief digital officer.

“We selected Happify as our partner as they have already demonstrated a positive impact on the mental health of patients with chronic conditions, including psoriasis, in published research,” she added.

It’s not the first time that Almirall has partnered with a digital health specialist to develop tools that complement its drug therapies for psoriasis.

Last November, the drugmaker joined forces with Finnish start-up Popit on a digital device and app combination that provides educational support to patients and help them adhere to psoriasis treatment, which has already started to roll out in the Netherlands.

Popit’s technology has been clinically validated to reduce the number of missed doses and is already being used by several pharma companies.

Happify meanwhile has been partnering with healthcare organisations to develop other versions of its digital health platform targeted at specific health conditions.

Last year, it teamed up with the American Heart Association (AHA) to develop an app that aims to reduce stress and encourage healthy behaviour in people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.