Psoriasis improved in study of people taking biologic drugs Stelara and Enbrel
Improvement rates differ with doses and types of biologic therapies.
THE QUESTION Among the newer treatments for the chronic skin disease psoriasis are biologics, drugs created in a lab from living cells to block specific cells or proteins involved in psoriasis. How do two of these drugs compare?
THIS STUDY randomly assigned 903 adults who had had moderate to severe psoriasis an average of 19 years to get two injections of ustekinumab (Stelara) four weeks apart at one of two dosages (45 or 90 milligrams) or to have etanercept (Enbrel, 50 milligrams) injected twice a week. After 12 weeks, the disease was described as less severe in a majority of people taking either biologic. However, symptoms had improved at least 75 percent in about 74 percent of those taking the larger dose of Stelara and 68 percent of those taking the smaller dose, compared with 57 percent of those in the Enbrel group. Psoriasis had cleared or was minimal in 61 percent of the lower-dose Stelara group and 71 percent of the higher-dose group, vs. 49 percent of those given Enbrel.
WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? People with psoriasis, which causes thickened patches of red, scaly skin that develops because of an immune system problem. It affects an estimated 7.5 million people in the United States.
CAVEATS Centocor Research and Development, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, which makes Stelara, funded the study and participated in the data analysis. Four of 13 primary authors received fees from the companies, and seven were Johnson & Johnson employees.
FIND THIS STUDY Jan. 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
-- Linda Searing
The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.