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Oral and Injectable Medications for Psoriasis: Benefits and Downsides Requiring Patient Support


 

Approximately three-quarters of respondents indicated that they have used oral or injectable medications (eg, methotrexate, acitretin, cyclosporine, apremilast, biologics) to control their psoriasis, according to a public meeting hosted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to hear patient perspectives on psoriasis. Approximately 70 psoriasis patients or patient representatives attended the meeting in person and others attended through a live webcast.

Patients universally spoke about the benefits of their current treatments, especially the biologics, but variable experiences regarding the effectiveness of the therapies were reported, ranging from excellent improvement, to improvement that lasted only a few months, to a near-complete clearance. However, limitations to these therapies also were mentioned, which are areas where dermatologists can provide counseling and alternatives. For example, treatments were reported to be effective in clearing cutaneous psoriasis symptoms such as flaking and scaling, but pruritus, burning, and pain were still problematic and mostly limited to areas where the cutaneous symptoms had been located.

Other treatment downsides that dermatologists should discuss with patients are side effects, including fatigue, nausea, fluctuations in weight, increased facial hair growth, nosebleeds, increased blood pressure, headaches, and palpitations, according to the patients present at the meeting. Patients also expressed concern about immune compromise from the biologics. Others reported concerns that the treatments addressed specific psoriasis symptoms but led to worsening of other symptoms or development of new conditions such as uveitis and psoriatic arthritis. The burden of treatment infusions or required blood work also were discussed. These are areas in which dermatologists may be best suited to provide more patient education or support when prescribing these therapies. The National Psoriasis Foundation’s Patient Navigation Center is a tool for patients to access information and interact with members of the psoriasis patient community.

The psoriasis public meeting in March 2016 was the FDA’s 18th patient-focused drug development meeting. The FDA sought this information to have a greater understanding of the burden of psoriasis on patients and the treatments currently used to treat psoriasis and its symptoms. This information will help guide the FDA as they consider future drug approvals.

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