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Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week 2019: Continuing the fight against RA



Paul Mason
Inflammation and Immunology Lead
Pfizer UK


Each year the Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week (June 17-23)1 provides an opportunity for all of us to pause and reflect on the crippling effect that this condition can have on individuals and their families. This year, the theme of this important milestone is #AnyoneAnyAge – reminding us all that RA can strike at any age – challenging the myth that it is an ‘old person’s disease’.1


The progress in the rheumatoid arthritis (RA) space has been truly astounding – barely a generation ago, a diagnosis of RA could mean facing a lifetime of pain and disability, maybe ending up in a wheelchair. Rheumatology clinics and hospital wards bore witness to the burden that so many people endured.

Today, thanks to rapid scientific and medical innovations, many RA patients are now able to lead active, productive lives for longer.

This is not just good news for those who live with the disease. It has also reduced the burden on the health service. In 2006/07, NHS hospital bed-days due to RA-related admissions stood at more than 93,000. Ten years later, this had fallen to less than 30,000.2

However, despite the innovation there remain challenges. Treatment options can vary greatly depending on location. Naturally, we want to make sure that the best possible treatments are available to those who need them. Here in the UK, patients with what is termed ‘moderate’ RA don’t automatically have access to the latest, advanced therapies – unlike many of our European neighbours.3 As costs of RA treatments have fallen, could there be an opportunity to increase access?

Likewise, there is a misconception that RA only affects the elderly – in fact, RA is an auto-immune disease that can strike at any age.1 RA can and does affect people in the prime of life, making it harder to bring up young children and potentially threatening careers and livelihoods.4

That is why I’m proud to work for a company that has not only played its part in advancing the treatment options for patients with RA for over 20 years but also continues to support those affected. For me, and for my colleagues at Pfizer, there is nothing more motivating than the knowledge that the work we do has the potential to transform lives. It’s a passion we share with the thousands of healthcare professionals and carers who strive to make life easier for people with RA.

So let’s all work together – industry, NHS, Government and all our stakeholders – to ensure that the best possible, innovative treatments reach the patients who need them no matter their age or location.

This week on Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week join us in showing support to the RA community and sharing the message that it can affect #AnyoneAnyAge.1



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  1. National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society. 2019. RA Awareness Week 2019. Last accessed 12 June 2019
  2. Russell, M., Bukhari, M. and Galloway, J. (2019). The price of good health care. Rheumatology, 58(6), 931-932.
  3. Kaló, Z., Vokó, Z., Östör, A., Clifton-Brown, E., Vasilescu, R., Battersby, A. and Gibson, E. (2017). Patient access to reimbursed biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in the European region. Journal of Market Access & Health Policy, 5(1), 1345580.
  4. 2019. Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Last accessed 12 June 2019


PP-PFE-GBR-1787 / June 2019