What Is Cosentyx (Secukinumab)?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2022. | Last updated: July 2022

Cosentyx (secukinumab) is a biologic drug that can be used to treat adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. It is now approved to treat kids ages 6 and up. It is a treatment option that was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in January 2015, and it can also be used to treat psoriatic arthritis. Cosentyx is a prescription medicine taken regularly through an injection1.

The active ingredient in Cosentyx is called secukinumab, which is a type of biologic treatment. Biologics are a powerful type of systemic treatment, which are made from living substances, such as proteins that come from humans or animals.

Cosentyx is generally prescribed for people with moderate to severe psoriasis whose condition is not controlled well enough by other types of medications, and who need to try treatment with a stronger medicine that treats the condition from within the body. It may also be prescribed for people who cannot take other types of systemic medicines due to the side effects they cause2.

Cosentyx is a maintenance treatment, meaning that it is taken regularly over the longer term in order to help control psoriasis, even during times when the symptoms have improved3.

How does Cosentyx (secukinumab) work to treat psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes symptoms on the skin. A person with psoriasis has an overactive immune system that causes inflammation in the body, which triggers the production of an excess number of new skin cells before older skin cells can die and be shed naturally. The new skin cells push the older cells upward to the surface of the skin, where they build up and cause plaques to form.

Biologic treatments for psoriasis seek out and block the activity of substances (such as immune cells or proteins) that are related to the immune system and the processes that cause inflammation. Cosentyx is a type of biologic called an interleukin 17-A (IL-17A) blocker. Cosentyx (secukinumab) targets and blocks the function of IL-17A proteins, which are involved in inflammation and are found in high levels inside psoriasis plaques1. This interrupts the cycle of inflammation that causes psoriasis symptoms to develop.

Clinical studies were carried out to test the effectiveness of treatment with Cosentyx in patients with psoriasis2. After 12 weeks of treatment, 82% of patients had a 75% improvement in their psoriasis symptoms, and after 1 year of treatment, 81% of those patients had maintained that 75% improvement. Almost 60% of patients had a 90% improvement in their symptoms after 12 weeks of treatment4.

How is Cosentyx (secukinumab) administered?

Patients take Cosentyx by injection into the upper arm, thigh, or abdomen. Most patients can self-inject at home after being trained by a healthcare provider how to do so safely1. Each dose should be injected into a different area of the body than the previous dose, and should only be injected into areas of skin that are not tender, bruised, or affected by psoriasis symptoms.

Patients inject the medicine once per week for the first five weeks of treatment. After that, injections are only administered once every four weeks4. The medicine comes in a pre-filled syringe or Sensoready pen and must be stored in the refrigerator. It is also available in a vial.

Who can take Cosentyx (secukinumab)?

Cosentyx is approved for treating children ages 6 and up as well as adults with moderate-to-severe psoriasis who need treatment with systemic medication or phototherapy. It is not suitable for people who are allergic to secukinumab or any other ingredients in Cosentyx3.

Because the medicine affects the immune system’s ability to fight off infections, healthcare providers need to know if the patient4:

  • currently has an infection or any symptoms of an infection
  • has an infection that will not go away or keeps coming back
  • has tuberculosis or has been in contact with someone with tuberculosis (healthcare providers will screen patients for tuberculosis before and during treatment)

Healthcare providers also need to know if the patient4:

  • has inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • has any other medical conditions
  • has recently had (or is planning to have) a live vaccine
  • is allergic to latex
  • is pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding
  • is taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or supplements

What are the common side effects of taking Cosentyx (secukinumab)?

During the clinical trials to test the Cosentyx, the most common side effects that patients reported were2:

  • cold symptoms (around 11% of patients)
  • diarrhea (around 4% of patients)
  • upper respiratory infections (around 2.5% of patients)

What are the risks of taking Cosentyx (secukinumab)?

A small number of people treated with Cosentyx in the studies had worsened symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. Let your healthcare provider know if you have new or worsened symptoms such as stomach pain or diarrhea3.

Stop taking Cosentyx and get medical help right away if you develop any symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:

  • feeling faint or lightheaded
  • swelling in the face, mouth or throat
  • trouble breathing
  • chest tightness
  • rash

This is not an exhaustive list of side effects experienced by those taking Cosentyx.

Can Cosentyx (secukinumab) be used with other treatments or drugs?

Generally, Cosentyx can be used with many other types of treatments, such as phototherapy and topical medicines. Your healthcare provider will let you know if it is safe to take Cosentyx with other types of systemic medicines.

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