What Is Taltz (Ixekizumab)?

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Taltz (ixekizumab) is a new systemic treatment for adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. It was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in March 2016. Taltz is administered by an injection in the skin. Taltz is a biologic therapy with an active ingredient called ixekizumab, which is engineered in the laboratory from human molecules1.

Taltz is recommended for people who need treatment with a systemic medicine and/or phototherapy because their psoriasis cannot be controlled well enough with topical treatments. Systemic medicines such as Taltz work by affecting the process of inflammation in the immune system. It is a maintenance treatment that needs to be taken regularly over a longer period of time in order to be effective.

How does Taltz (ixekizumab) work to treat plaque psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes symptoms to develop on the skin as a result of inflammation inside the body. The inflammation triggers the production of new skin cells that are produced more quickly than older skin cells can be shed. Psoriasis plaques form when new skin cells push older cells up to the surface layer of the skin, where they build up.

Proteins called cytokines are involved in the process of inflammation, and a type called interleukin 17A (IL-17A) plays a key role in the inflammation caused by psoriasis. Ixekizumab, the active ingredient in Taltz, works by seeking out and binding to the IL-17A proteins1. This reduces the process of inflammation, which can help to control the psoriasis symptoms caused by the inflammatory process.

Clinical studies were carried out to test the safety and effectiveness of Taltz in treating psoriasis. After 12 weeks of treatment2:

  • 90% of patients had an improvement in symptoms of 75%
  • 71% of patients had an improvement in symptoms of 90%
  • 40% of patients had an improvement in symptoms of 100%

The studies also reported that 75% of the patients who had clear skin or minimal psoriasis at 12 weeks had maintained clear/minimal status after 60 weeks of treatment2.

Who can take Taltz (ixekizumab)?

Taltz is approved for people with moderate to severe psoriasis aged 18 years or older. It is not suitable for people who are allergic to any of the ingredients in the medicine3. The effect of treatment with Taltz on women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not yet know.

Before prescribing Taltz, healthcare providers need to know if the patient4:

  • has an infection, is being treated for an infection, or gets infections regularly
  • has tuberculosis or has been in contact with someone who has it (patients are screened for tuberculosis before and during treatment)
  • has inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
  • has recently been vaccinated or has a vaccination scheduled
  • is pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding

How is Taltz (ixekizumab) administered?

Taltz is administered in an injection with an auto-injector or pre-filled syringe into the upper arms, thighs, or abdomen. Many patients are able to inject themselves with the medicine after being trained by a healthcare provider. To reduce side effects on the skin around the injection site, it is best to inject a dose in a different place than the previous dose.

Most people will need an injection every two weeks for 12 weeks. After that, injections are usually administered every 4 weeks. Taltz needs to be stored in the refrigerator when not in use3.

What side effects can Taltz (ixekizumab) cause?

Taltz is a powerful medicine that changes the way a person’s immune system works. This can make it more difficult to fight off various types of infections3. People who are using Taltz should let their healthcare provider know right away if they develop any signs or symptoms of an infection during treatment with Taltz, such as:

  • fever
  • muscle aches
  • cough
  • breathlessness
  • weight loss
  • warm, painful skin or sores
  • diarrhea or stomach pain
  • frequent urination, or burning sensation while urinating
  • bloody phlegm

The most common side effects that are reported by patients who take Taltz are upper respiratory tract infections and skin reactions around the injection site, such as burning, itching, and redness. Less common side effects include serious infections, nausea, and ear infections. In rare cases, people taking Taltz may develop or have worsened symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease4.

Can Taltz (ixekizumab) be used with other treatments or drugs?

Your Healthcare provider can advise you about whether it is safe to combine Taltz with other types of treatments for psoriasis.