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Patients Living with Sjogren's Syndrome Encourage Communities to "Defy the Dry"
Date:4/20/2011

PARSIPPANY, N.J. and BETHESDA, Md., April 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation (SSF), in partnership with Daiichi Sankyo Inc., today announced the launch of the Defy the Dry™ campaign, an educational initiative to ignite patient-physician dialogue about dryness symptoms. For those with Sjogren's syndrome today, it takes approximately seven years from the onset symptoms to an accurate diagnosis.  Knowing this is too long to wait for a diagnosis, motivated  patients living with Sjogren's -- the second most common autoimmune disorder(1) -- are leading an effort to encourage friends, families and doctors in their local communities to talk about dryness symptoms, especially dry eyes and dry mouth. The Defy the Dry™ campaign is the first step towards the SSF's goal of reducing the time from on-set of symptoms to diagnosis of Sjogren's by 50 percent in five years.

"As many as four million Americans are living with Sjogren's(2) and many of them may not even know it. Dry eyes and dry mouth are the hallmark symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome(2), but patients and doctors just aren't discussing these symptoms often enough or soon enough," said Steven Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation in Bethesda, Maryland. "We hope that by igniting dryness discussions through the Defy the Dry™ campaign, we can help people living with dryness get diagnosed sooner and, as necessary, start the appropriate treatment."

Sjogren's syndrome (pronounced SHOW-grins) is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks glands -- such as the salivary glands and the tear-secreting glands -- that produce moisture vital to healthy bodily functions such as digestion and vision(2).  Dry eyes and dry mouth are the most common symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome and may result in a dry, gritty or burning sensation in the eyes, difficulty talking, chewing or swallowing, a sore or cracked tongue, and a change in taste, among other symptoms(2). While living for years with these dryness symptoms can be uncomfortable and at times debilitating, patients can experience additional health complications if symptoms are left untreated(2).

One reason for the dramatic delay in diagnosing Sjogren's is that, despite the often negative impact that dryness can have on a patient's life and health, patients often wait too long to discuss their symptoms with a healthcare provider. In addition, dryness is not always at the top of the list of symptoms that healthcare providers address with patients during routine visits. As part of the Defy the Dry™ campaign, SSF Awareness Ambassadors will distribute materials about dryness symptoms and Sjogren's in their local communities to make sure people understand the importance of discussing dryness symptoms with their healthcare professionals. They will also provide a checklist about dryness symptoms to local healthcare professionals that can help facilitate dryness discussions with their patients.

"What many people may not realize is that dry-eye and dry-mouth symptoms could be a sign of something more serious like Sjogren's syndrome. Therefore, it is critical for patients to discuss their symptoms as soon as they begin to experience them," said Dr. Steven Carsons, Chief, Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology Winthrop-University Hospital.  "As a physician, it is just as important for me to make sure that I am proactively asking patients about dryness symptoms and considering Sjogren's syndrome earlier in the diagnostic process and I would encourage other healthcare professionals such as dentists and primary care physicians to do the same."

Those experiencing dry-mouth or dry-eye symptoms should talk to their healthcare professional for information about the symptoms, testing and diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome. For more information on Sjogren's or how to become an awareness ambassador, please visit DefytheDry.com.

The Defy the Dry Challenge is sponsored by the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation and Daiichi Sankyo, Inc.

About the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation

Founded in 1983, the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation (SSF) provides patients with practical information and coping strategies that minimize the effects of Sjogren's syndrome. In addition, the Foundation is the clearinghouse for medical information and is the recognized national advocate for Sjogren's syndrome. The Foundation's mission is to educate patients and their families about Sjogren's syndrome, to increase public and professional awareness of Sjogren's syndrome, and encourage research into new treatments and a cure. For more information, please visit www.sjogrens.org.

About Daiichi Sankyo

The Daiichi Sankyo Group is dedicated to the creation and supply of innovative pharmaceutical products to address the diversified, unmet medical needs of patients in both mature and emerging markets. While maintaining its portfolio of marketed pharmaceuticals for hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and bacterial infections, the Group is engaged in the development of treatments for thrombotic disorders and focused on the discovery of novel oncology and cardiovascular-metabolic therapies. Furthermore, the Daiichi Sankyo Group has created a "Hybrid Business Model," which will respond to market and customer diversity and optimize growth opportunities across the value chain. For more information, please visit www.daiichisankyo.com.

Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., headquartered in Parsippany, New Jersey, is a member of the Daiichi Sankyo Group. For more information on Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., please visit www.dsi.com.

For more information, please contact:

Alyssa Dargento
Daiichi Sankyo, Inc.
Office: (973) 944-2253
adargento@dsi.com

Steven Taylor
Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation
(301) 530-4420
staylor@sjogrens.org

(1) Fox RI. "Sjogrens syndrome: New approaches to treatment." Medscape. Published April 11, 2000. Available at: http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/412973.

(2) Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation. What is Sjogren's syndrome? Available at: http://www.sjogrens.org/files/brochures/ssf_whatis_ss_brochure.pdf.  Accessed February 8, 2011.

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