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.