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New Treatment for Psoriasis

While several effective treatments exist for psoriasis, new medicines are desirable to help treat patients who have failed to benefit from existing therapies. A new injectable, biologic drug, efalizumab, has been shown to reduce the thick, red, scaly skin lesions of psoriasis and to improve patient quality of life, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (12/17/03). Led by Dr. Kenneth Gordon, director, Loyola Psoriasis Center, Loyola University Health System in Maywood, IL, this double-blind, placebo-controlled study of efalizumab on 556 adult psoriasis patients was conducted at 30 centers in the US and Canada. Patients received weekly injections of the drug or a placebo for three months. Researchers assessed the extent of the psoriasis on the scalp, upper and lower limbs, and trunk of each patient. In addition, they rated the degree of scaling and thickness.

Patients in the study also completed a questionnaire asking how psoriasis affects their daily life, work and their relationships. They reported symptoms, including pain, itching, bleeding, burning and scaling.The researchers evaluated the effects of efalizumab on health-related quality of life measures from both patient and physician perspective. Results of the study showed that the patients who received the biologic therapy achieved significant improvement vs. placebo. Efalizumab treatment reduced the frequency and severity of psoriasis symptoms, particularly in the severity of itching and scaling.

While this drug is not yet FDA approved, this study offers hope for psoriasis sufferers who are not currently responding to medication or who suffer from significant side effects of their current regimen.

Created: 2/10/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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