"Love Helps Us Stand Tall for Life" Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Awareness Summer Campaign for Youth Kicks off


(July 15, 2015, Beijing) Xian Janssen Pharmaceutical Ltd. launched the Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Awareness Summer Campaign for Youth themed "Love Helps us Stand Tall for Life" in the summer vacation of 2015. The campaign is designed to raise the awareness of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) among the public, and encourage the youth with high risks to discover signs of disease as early as possible and receive timely treatment to help them return to normal life.

AS is a systemic inflammatory disease which mainly involves the spine as well as peripheral joints such as hip joint and extra-articular organs and tissues such as eyes, gastrointestinal tract or skin. Prof. Zeng Xiaofeng from Rheumatology and Immunology Department of Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Chairman of Chinese Rheumatology Association of Chinese Medical Association, said that there were over 5 million patients with AS in China, with the majority of diagnoses occurring in patients between the ages of 20 and 30, and the disease was more prevalent among men. The public awareness of AS is low. Many young people have missed the best opportunity for treatment when being diagnosed, causing spinal ankylosis, kyphosis deformity, loss of motor function, or even disability.

"Individuals under the age of 40 who experience back pain lasting more than 3 months, including lower or chronic back pain, morning stiffness, or pain at night, should promptly be assessed by a rheumatology specialist. Never delay your treatment, or you will regret for the rest of your life," strongly suggested Prof. Zeng.

AS will lead to hip involvement in approximately one third of patients, and is more likely to occur in patients with early onset of the disease.Hip involvement has a fast onset and development, and causes joint space narrowing, stiffness and deformity. Left untreated, it can develop into advanced stage, which causes difficulty in walking, squatting and sitting, and even complete loss of self-care ability due to disability, and further affects employment, mentality and overall life quality .

Moreover, extra articular manifestation is a common complication of AS. Approximately 39% of AS patients have associated extra articular manifestation, including uveitis (25%), inflammatory bowel disease (9%) and psoriasis (10%) . If not treated, it may lead to serious outcomes such as blindness?and arrest of development. Serious extra articular organ impairment may lead to death .

Therefore, it is particularly important for AS patients with hip involvement or extra articular manifestation to discover the disease in time and receive effective treatment at early stage.

"In the early stage, it is mild in severity and easy to control. However, left untreated, refractory lesions can develop in advanced stages due to a reduced sensitivity to medication and the difficulty of repairing damaged cartilage," explained Prof. Xu Huji from Rheumatology and Immunology Department, Changzheng Hospital affiliated with the Second Military Medical University. This means that the efficacy of salvage treatment in early stage is profoundly different from that of treatment in advanced stage.

"Based on the treatment guidelines and clinical experiences of AS both at home and abroad, AS patients with hip involvement or extra articular manifestation are recommended to receive intravenous administration of biologics to rapidly and effectively control the progression of the disease as early as possible, prevent new bone formation of joints, bone destruction and avoid disability," said Prof. Lin Jin from Rheumatology and Immunology Department of Zhejiang No.1 Hospital.

AS has been gaining more attention and support. Prof. Lin said that at the beginning of the year, Zhejiang and Qingdao had included infliximab, a biological product for treating AS, into the medical reimbursement programs for catastrophic diseases.

“Xian Janssen initiates this campaign to raise public awareness of AS, especially the youth, and hopes fewer young people suffer from disability caused by AS. We will continue to provide innovative treatment and launch disease awareness programs, and spare no efforts to improve Chinese patients' well-being,” said Ms. Zheng Lei, Vice President of Xian Janssen Pharmaceutical Ltd.

It is reported that "Love Helps Us Stand Tall for Life" campaign will be launched successively in cities including Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Xi'an this year. The "online" activities include creating AS disease awareness webpages, publishing AS Education video, launching HTML5 logical sorting game of AS, and posting an infographic of AS named "Venus in Pain".