Transforming Care for RA Patients by Walking in Their Shoes

Today’s guest blog comes from Christi Shaw, Senior Vice President and President of Lilly Bio-Medicines.

As Eli Lilly and Company celebrates bringing a new rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment to market, I reflect on a unique immersion experience at the company headquarters in Indianapolis called Anna’s House, which is designed to simulate a day in the life of a person with RA. RA is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation of the synovium (connective tissue), usually in the small joints of the hands, wrists and feet.1,2

Through the simulation, I’ve had the opportunity, along with thousands of Lilly employees, to experience just a glimpse of this debilitating, progressive disease – the joint pain and swelling, the aching and stiffness.1,2 In Anna’s House, we wear simulation gloves to experience how the simple tasks of buttoning a shirt or opening drawers becomes extremely difficult and can take ten times longer to complete. When I first toured Anna’s House, I realized how much I take these little moments for granted. At the end of my experience, I could remove the simulation gloves and go back to my routine, but the 23 million people around the world living with RA cannot. I can only imagine how challenging it is to get through each day with this chronic illness, but I know for sure that we at Lilly needed to improve that experience.

Understanding the Unmet Need
Despite the advancements in the RA treatment landscape over the past several decades, many patients are still failing to achieve their disease management goals with available therapies. It is estimated that about two-thirds of established RA patients will not reach clinical remission with their first TNF inhibitor therapy, and a significant percentage will not maintain efficacy as time goes on.3 With every shirt buttoned and drawer pulled open, these patients can feel held back by their RA.

Since this patient population is often unable to achieve a sustained treatment response over time, it is crucial for them to have access to multiple options to customize treatment to disease characteristics and experiences. There remains an important need to provide additional treatments to improve overall patient care.

Lilly’s Commitment to Immunology
That’s why Lilly continues to invest in research and development of new medicines to equip clinicians with tools to address RA and other autoimmune disorders. Our scientific expertise and dedication to understanding patient needs sets us apart and better positions us to continue making significant contributions to the field of immunology.

While my time with Anna’s House was temporary and only a fraction of what RA patients experience, I now have a sense of the helplessness they may feel. I’m so proud to be a part of Lilly’s dedication to providing more options for RA patients that give them relief from symptoms and help them regain hope for getting back to the things they’re used to doing.


  1. Trieb K. J Bone Joint Surg [Br]. 2005;87-B;1171-1177.
  2. Kahlenberg JM and Fox DA. Hand Clin. 2011;27:11-20.
  3. Curtis JR and Singh JA. Clin Ther. 2011;33(6):679-707.
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