Heim is known for her work, first and foremost, as a Family Nurse Practitioner for West Michigan Dermatology. Here, she helps those with dermatologic diseases such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, as well as less common diseases such as hidradenitis suppurativa (HS).
In addition to this role, Heim also serves as the Clinical Manager of the Psoriasis and Eczema Treatment Center, where her role involves protocol development and day to day operations.
Heim was first asked about her response to the recent announcement by biopharmaceutical company Arcutis Biotherapeutics, Inc., about its supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding roflumilast cream 0.15% for atopic dermatitis.1
“I think that is fantastic,” she said. “You know, for a long time, we didn’t have very many medications for atopic dermatitis or the options that we had were very limited. And this medication is absolutely going to be very enhancing for our patients that have atopic dermatitis. There have been so many new medications since when I started, and I really specialize in working with patients primarily with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. And I say to the companies, please help these patients with atopic dermatitis.”
She added that there are too few options for care for patients with conditions like atopic dermatitis, adding that a difficult element has been that insurance companies really do not understand the importance of these medications.
“And to have a normalized skin barrier, to be able to sleep, to be able to function on a day to day basis, it’s really giving them back their life,” Heim explained. “Their quality of life has improved just a hundredfold.”
When asked about the notion of researchers neglecting atopic dermatitis as compared with other conditions due to the disease being seen as less impactful, Heim responded.
“It is a huge myth,” she said. “And one thing I think is that with psoriasis, the National Psoriasis Foundation really became a very strong foundation and brought about a tremendous amount of awareness. It wasn’t until 2 and, like I said, I had mentioned that as a provider and I kept saying, ‘Please, these patients suffered terribly.’ And this is a true physical condition.”
Heim added that the conditions are not just about a little itch of the skin, noting that they are true physical conditions that can also impact patients psychologically.
She was later asked about her response to the recent strong results seen in both Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score and symptoms of depression in those with psoriasis and an insufficient response to tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibition (TNF-α) switching to interleukin-17 inhibition through brodalumab.2
“One, if you have a patient that is not adequately treated with psoriasis, they need to be adequately treated,” Heim stated. “This disease affects people’s psychological well being tremendously. We know that the depression rates and suicide rates for patients with untreated or inadequately treated psoriasis is very high, and if a patient is not being treated appropriately, they need to be.”
Heim then added that she has quite a few patients using brodalumab in her practice.
“It is a wonderful medication,” she explained. “The conversation is hard. It is and you’re going from something that’s a TNF-inhibitor that’s considered more benign. It’s been around for 20 years, and you can easily gain access to it, and now, especially for brodalumab, there’s multiple generics that are coming out…And unfortunately, a lot of providers don’t want to have that conversation. So those patients don’t get the care that they need.”
To learn more, view the full interview with Heim posted above the text.
The quotes contained here were edited for the purposes of clarity.
- Arcutis Submits Roflumilast Cream 0.15% Supplemental New Drug Application to the FDA for the Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis in Adults and Children Ages 6 Years and Older.” Arcutis. Published September 12. https://www.arcutis.com/arcutis-submits-roflumilast-cream-0-15-supplemental-new-drug-application-to-the-fda-for-the-treatment-of-atopic-dermatitis-in-adults-and-children-ages-6-years-and-older/.
- Andersch-Björkman, Y, Micu, E, Seifert, O, Lonne-Rahm, S-B, Gillstedt, M, Osmancevic, A. Effects of brodalumab on psoriasis and depressive symptoms in patients with insufficient response to TNF-α inhibitors. J Dermatol. 2023; 00: 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1111/1346-8138.16917.