Strategy

Skincare for cancer patients : La Roche-Posay’s new commitment

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Laetitia Toupet

A long-standing skincare player, today La Roche-Posay is committed to caring for cancer patients. Laetitia Toupet, International Managing Director of the brand, tells us about this new undertaking and explains how it helps patients.

Supporting cancer patients: an obligation, not just a project, for La Roche-Posay

Since its creation, La Roche-Posay has focused on supporting people with sensitive and damaged skin to improve their quality of life. Today, the brand wants to go further by providing help for cancer patients. “More than just a project, it’s an obligation and a responsibility”, Laetitia Toupet begins.

The brand’s new undertaking can be explained by two factors. The first is the rapid growth of the disease on a global scale. “Today, cancer is the second biggest killer in the world and the WHO estimates that the number of diagnosed cases will rise by 70% over the next twenty years.” The second is the increased awareness of patients’ quality of life, which is crucial when fighting such a disease. “Although treatment is essential, it can cause significant side effects: today, two-thirds of patients suffer from side effects such as increased sensitivity, skin, hair and nail irritations and other more severe symptoms and problems. The suffering this causes is even harder to live with because it happens at a difficult period in the patient’s life and causes real discomfort which can be crippling.” The result? “Despite medical monitoring and the support of family and friends, cancer patients feel increasingly alone and helpless when battling this disease. They urgently need to be listened to and to feel supported.”

Investing in advanced research and practical recommendations for professionals and patients

In view of this and with its expert knowledge, La Roche-Posay aims to help patients in two ways: “We’re committed to advanced research and sharing our knowledge with as many people as possible.”

When it comes to research, the brand has brought together a group of experts, including oncologists and dermatologists from across the globe, all of whom are specialists in the associated side effects of cancer treatments. “Called Expert in Skin Management & Oncology, it analyses the side effects of treatments and establishes suitable skincare routines, backed by observational and clinical studies.” The best example of this? The last two multi-centric studies conducted by the brand’s Scientific Department in a hospital environment, which showed the advantages of skincare products in preventing chemotherapy’s and radiotherapy’s side effects on the skin. “Carried out by oncologists on 400 patients in France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Canada, they showed that, in addition to the excellent tolerability of La Roche-Posay products, patients who used the brand’s skincare products more regularly – particularly Lipikar Baume AP+, Lipikar Cleansing Oil and Cicaplast Baume B5 – were less likely to see side effects affecting their skin and, of those who did, their side effects were less intense. The results of these two studies back up international recommendations as to the importance of using appropriate skincare to help to prevent and reduce the impact of skin reactions.”

To ensure that these recommendations reach patients, the brand communicates about its “therapeutic approach”: “in hospitals, in pharmacies but also online and with influencers. In short, any channel which patients are likely to use during their treatment.” Within the medical environment, La Roche-Posay trains nurses, oncologists and pharmacists and raises awareness, providing them with a simple tool to find the most suitable skincare products, depending on the side effects experienced by the patient. To communicate directly with patients, the brand has also created a practical guide to help them in everyday situations: “Given out in hospitals and pharmacies, it gives practical advice about good habits and the right products to use in different situations.” A website has also been launched to make this advice accessible to as many people as possible: “Launched in November 2016, it repeats the guide’s recommendations and also includes videos and sophrology sessions. It’s an excellent way of going even further to support patients.”

A programme in 20 countries with more than 46,000 trained professionals

The brand’s initiatives are flourishing. Since the launch of the programme, La Roche-Posay has helped to advance scientific research and to raise awareness about the importance of supportive care. “Our studies were presented at the AFSOS conference in 2015 and 2016 and two of our articles on supporting patients will soon be published in well-known scientific reviews.” To date, the brand has also trained a huge number of health professionals across the globe, including “500 nurses, 3000 dermatologists, 10,000 GPs and 33,000 pharmacists. Operating in more than 20 countries today, we intend to roll out this programme in all the countries where the brand is present!”

“Patients’ gratitude is the best reward”

But even more importantly, in Laetitia Toupet’s view, is how these initiatives are welcomed by patients themselves: “After being given the opportunity to wear make-up in hospitals, some patients have told us that for the first time in a long time, they feel like themselves again, like women. Their gratitude is the best reward of all.” Laetitia Toupet concludes: “At La Roche-Posay, the patient has always been at the heart of our concerns and our thought process. That’s something we have to continue.”

 

Innovation | July 2017