New targeted drugs might be safer than conventional treatments to take care of the condition of the skin psoriasis, a new study Trusted Source concludes.
However, researchers note these biologic drugs are far more expensive to use.
That fact may cause consumers to wonder whether the advantages of them are worth the cost.
These biologics work by inhibiting an overactive immune response that produces the disease’s symptoms.
The drugs are effective in clearing skin rashes and other conditions due to psoriasis.
In this study, researchers compared the danger of serious infection, a possible side effect because of the immune-altering aftereffects of the new drugs, against seven other medications.
“There’s a great deal of data published on the comparative effectiveness of systemic treatments for moderate to severe psoriasis but hardly any on comparative safety,” Dr. Erica D. Dommasch, MPH, the study’s lead author and a dermatologist in the department of dermatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Massachusetts, told Healthline.
Dommasch has previously consulted with some pharmaceutical companies and also received grants from them.
The investigation team used data from two insurance claims databases that included significantly more than 250 million people in the United States.
They tracked the incidence of serious infection requiring hospitalization in 107,000 people with psoriasis who had a prescription claim for certainly one of seven systemic (affecting the complete body) drugs approved to take care of moderate to severe psoriasis.
The drugs included acitretin and methotrexate. The researchers also looked at the biologic drugs adalimumab, etanercept, ustekinumab, and apremilast.
“Among the negative effects that patients and physicians are the most concerned with with one of these medications is a potential increased risk of infection,” Dommasch said.
She says the study was limited as far as they were unable to identify many users of infliximab, that will be given as an intravenous medication.
“Therefore it’s often not coded in databases as a prescription fill, that will be how exactly we identified users of the systemic medications,” she noted. “We also weren’t able to check out baseline psoriasis severity across the different medications, which also may impact the danger of infection.”
Biologics work by inhibiting the effects of several types of cytokines (immune system proteins) that are an essential factor in psoriasis.
Dommasch and her team found those using biologics had a somewhat lower risk for infection in comparison to those taking the other drugs.
The newer drugs were also proven to be more efficient at clearing symptoms and likely safer since they specifically treat the overactive immune response that produces psoriasis as opposed to suppressing the complete body’s immune system.
Dr. Richard Torbeck, a board-certified dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology PC, who wasn’t associated with this study, said, “The newer biologics are far more targeted compared to the older therapies. This enables them to be more efficient, sometimes reaching total skin clearance with fewer side effects. We’re less focused on immunosuppression in the individual and immunosuppression-related cancer risk.”