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Use of Biologics Among People with Psoriasis

Those who live with psoriasis want effective treatments for their condition. They long for relief from itchy, painful plaques on their skin and the stigma that comes along with it. They also hope to resolve other symptoms that may come with this chronic autoimmune illness.

Biologics are one of the options that exist to treat psoriasis. Studies show people are willing to try this drug. But as with other treatments, not everyone who tries biologics continues to use them.

What are biologics?

Biologics are drugs made from living cells. These cells can come from parts of the blood, proteins, viruses, or tissue. The process of making biologics turns these cells into drugs that can prevent, treat, and cure disease.

Biologics zero in on inflammation

Biologics are a type of drug designed to address specific aspects of immune function. This is unlike immunosuppressants, which affect how the whole immune system performs. Doctors may prescribe these more focused biologics when other treatments have not worked for people with moderate to severe psoriasis.1

Excess inflammation is a key factor in psoriasis.

What biologics are used to treat psoriasis?

Biologics for psoriasis aims to inhibit certain cells or proteins that play a role in this immune system process. The number of biologics used to treat psoriasis has grown. Biologics for psoriasis include:1

  • Cimzia® (certolizumab pegol)
  • Cosentyx® (secukinumab)
  • Enbrel® (etanercept)
  • Humira® (adalimumab)
  • Ilumya® (tildrakizumab-asmn)
  • Orencia® (abatacept)
  • Remicade® (infliximab)
  • Siliq® (brodalumab)
  • Simponi® (golimumab)
  • Simponi Aria® (golimumab)
  • Skyrizi® (risankizumab-rzaa)
  • Stelara® (ustekinumab)
  • Taltz® (ixekizumab)
  • Tremfya® (guselkumab)

What does adherence look like?

A lot of things can affect whether a person takes a certain drug as advised, such as cost, ease of use, length of use, how well the drug works, and side effects. These factors can also influence how a person perceives the treatment.

Research shows the extent of a person’s symptoms may also impact how they follow treatment guidance. A 2019 study examined adherence to biologics among more than 2,000 people with varying levels of psoriasis. The more intense person's psoriasis, the less they stuck with using biologics and using them as directed.2

What does the research say?

Other research has looked at adherence rates among different types of treatments for psoriasis. A 2018 study examined the health insurance claims of more than 20,000 people in the United States who were new users of either:3

  • Soriatane® (acitretin), a retinoid
  • Humira, a biologic
  • Enbrel, a biologic
  • Stelara, a biologic
  • Methotrexate, an immunosuppressant

The study found that over the course of 1 year, people were much more likely to stick to their treatment plan when taking 1 of the biologics compared to those taking methotrexate or Soriatane. Of note, those ages 56 to 64 were most likely to stick to their treatment plans.3

While the study did include a large number of people, it did not explore what caused people taking biologics to be more likely to stick to their treatment plans. More research is needed to better understand why some people with psoriasis are more likely to adhere to treatment plans with biologics compared to those with other drugs.3

Are biologics right for me?

Whether you use prescribed biologics is your choice. This treatment option may or may not be right for you. Perceptions, use, and success of treatment depend on a lot of things. And every person and their situation is unique.

Talk to your doctor to learn more about biologics for psoriasis. The insight they share can help you decide your next step. If you need to change course during treatment, your doctor can guide you in that as well.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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