Supporting People with Autoimmune Arthritis, During COVID-19 and Beyond

Stories@Gilead - May 15, 2020

Jamie Zagorski, Senior Director of Medical Sciences at Gilead, understands firsthand the challenges and anxieties many people living with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of these challenges include arranging virtual doctor’s appointments, accessing medicine and managing the elevated risk of infections due to compromised immune systems. These changes and uncertainties combine to elevate the potential risk of onset of inflammatory joint symptoms that can flare up for people with these types of arthritis.

As someone living with a rheumatologic condition herself, Jamie has already experienced some of these challenges personally.

"The additional danger of COVID-19 for people with RA and other inflammatory diseases is really that the virus and the circumstances of the pandemic have the potential to exacerbate the vulnerabilities of these underserved patients,” says Jamie, who works on Gilead’s Inflammation Medical Affairs team. “There is already a need for additional therapeutic options, challenges for some in accessing a healthcare provider and a greater risk of contracting illness because of immunosuppression. COVID-19 is amplifying these concerns."

Gilead is committed to helping address forms of autoimmune arthritis, including RA – the most common form, affecting more than 23 million people worldwide – and psoriatic arthritis (PsA), as well as other inflammatory diseases. The company is working to advance investigational medicines that have the potential to improve outcomes for patients who may benefit from additional therapeutic options. The company is also dedicated to working closely with patients, caregivers and the broader arthritis and inflammatory disease communities to provide support beyond medicine – particularly during the current global health crisis.

Teams working on inflammation at Gilead are currently working to address the needs of people living with RA, PsA and other inflammatory diseases with efforts focused on access to care, advocacy, education and research. The company also partners closely with advocacy groups that support patients, as well as organizations for healthcare providers such as the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).

ACR is collaborating with other organizations on the creation of a new group called the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance with the goal of providing accurate, timely and evidence-based information to rheumatology providers and patients during the global pandemic. A key objective of the alliance is to assemble an anonymous registry of patients with rheumatologic conditions who are infected with COVID-19 to track clinical outcomes to understand the potential impacts on this patient population.

"These types of initiatives are incredibly important right now for people with autoimmune arthritis or other inflammatory diseases,” says Jamie. “At Gilead we share this commitment to help people access the education, care and support they need – during the pandemic and beyond."

Learn more about guidance and advice on navigating life with RA and PsA during the COVID-19 pandemic from organizations such as the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), Arthritis Foundation and Creaky Joints.