A cure for psoriasis? Promising new drug trialled

July 13, 2016

Psoriasis affects approximately three per cent of the global population, and is believed to be caused by abnormal production of skin cells at accelerated rates, resulting in red skin patches. In addition to the itchy skin, psoriasis is linked to increased risk of depression, arthritis, lymphomas, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Findings from the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, report that the drug is highly effective in treating moderate to severe psoriasis in a majority of patients.

The trials included a total of 3,736 adult patients from 21 countries with moderate to severe psoriasis and were conducted at over 100 sites. Patients were randomly assigned to either receive injections of varying doses of the drug, ixekizumab, or a placebo for slightly more than one year. The trial measured the efficacy and safety of the drug over time, and it was evaluated by comparing changes in symptom severity with respect to placebo.

By the 12th week, 76.4 to 81.8 per cent of patients had their psoriasis classified as "clear" or "minimal" compared to 3.2 per cent of patients on the placebo. By the 60th week, 68.7 to 78.3 per cent of patients had maintained their improvement.

“Based on these findings, we expect that 80 per cent of patients will have an extremely high response rate to ixekizumab, and about 40 per cent will be completely cleared of psoriasis,” said Dr. Kenneth Gordon, a professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and first author of the paper.

Ten years ago, we thought complete clearance of this disease was impossible. It wasn’t something we would even try to do. Now with this drug, we’re obtaining response levels higher than ever seen before.”
Reported side effects in patients receiving ixekizumab included reduced white blood cell counts, yeast infection, and inflammatory bowel disease when compared to the placebo group. For these reasons, monitoring is needed for patients taking the drug for more than 60 weeks.

Allianz Worldwide Care covers a wide range of pre existing conditions, including psoriasis, on our international health insurance plans.
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