Thankful for Mount Sinai and a “Miracle” Medicine for Eczema

Stephen H. Orel had gotten used to having sleepless nights. For decades, he suffered from eczema that would cause severe itching. His constant scratching caused scabs that would bleed, ooze, and become scaly. Sometimes, his skin condition got so bad that every step he took, every time he would bend over to pick something up or even stretch, had its own quotient of pain. Co-workers would ask if he was ok as he walked stiffly down the office hall. Sleep came rarely, if at all. Stephen blamed himself for his inability to control the itching and scratching. He tried many medications and treatments over the years, but nothing could soothe his skin.

The turning point came in 2014 when Stephen read an article about Emma Guttman-Yassky, MD, PhD, and her groundbreaking research into a new treatment for eczema. Dr. Guttman-Yassky is the incoming Chair of the Kimberly and Eric J. Waldman Department of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and she conducted seminal research that led to the drug dupilumab, a fully human monoclonal antibody that is highly effective in treating moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. The story was a revelation to Stephen. Until then, he had no idea that other people were experiencing the same incessant scratching, the same blood stains on shirts and bedsheets, the same misery.  Unfortunately, the clinical trials for dupilumab were full, so Stephen had to wait until the research was completed and the results were ready for review by the FDA.  For the next two years he continued with previously approved treatments that provided, at best, small relief with potentially serious side effects, with continued pain and infections as a consequence of the cracks in his skin.

In 2016, dupilumab was approved, and changed Stephen’s life. When Dr. Guttman-Yassky prescribed the treatment, and convinced Stephen’s insurance to approve it, Stephen finally turned a corner.  He is ecstatic. “My skin is now free of pain and infection. There are no scabs or sores anywhere on my body. I feel a million times better than I have in my entire life. I am deeply thankful to Dr. Guttman-Yassky and her wonderful team at Mount Sinai for delivering this miracle.”