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Types of Biologic Drugs for Psoriasis

One type of biologic medication, called anti-TNF drugs, was made to treat rheumatoid arthritis. But researchers discovered that TNF, a protein, also plays a role in psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Anti-TNF drugs that are approved for both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis include:

  • Enbrel (etanercept)
  • Humira (adalimumab)
  • Remicade (infliximab)

Simponi (golimumab) is approved for psoriatic arthritis only.

As researchers learned more about the biology of psoriasis, they made biologics specifically for the disease.  

Stelara (ustekinumab) targets proteins that researchers believe promote inflammation linked to psoriasis.

Otezla (apremilast) shuts down an enzyme in the immune system to fight inflammation.

The more targeted the treatment, the greater the chance it will work and with fewer side effects, Heffernan says.

More Psoriasis Medications on the Way

There's been a lot of progress, but scientists are working on many more drugs, too. At least 10 new medicines are being tested by researchers with large groups of people to see if they're safe and effective:

  • Brodalumab, Ixekizumab, and Secukinumab, injectable anti-inflammatory drugs for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
  • Tildrakizumab, an injectable anti-inflammatory for psoriasis
  • Abatacept, an injectable drug for psoriasis that turns down the immune system
  • CF101 and FP187, anti-inflammatory drugs taken by mouth for psoriasis
  • Tofacitinib, an anti-inflammatory taken by mouth for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
  • LAS41008, LEO 90100, and M518101, topical treatments
  • Calcipotriene foam, a topical vitamin D drug for children ages 2-11

People with psoriasis now have many treatment options. But the only way to know which ones will work best for you -- and which will cause side effects -- is to try them.

What's next in psoriasis treatment? With genetic studies, researchers say they hope to predict which medication will work best in your body. This kind of tailored approach would be a huge advance.

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Reviewed on October 13, 2014

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