If you aren’t getting relief from other treatments, your doctor may suggest you try a drug that fights the causes of psoriasis, rather than just the symptoms. These medications, called biologics, target a specific part of your immune system.
Side effects include serious and sometimes deadly infections like tuberculosis, a higher risk of certain types of cancer like lymphoma, and a greater risk of autoimmune disorders such as a lupus-like syndrome.
Apremilast (Otezla). This isn’t a biologic, but it does affect your immune system. It’s a pill that you take once or twice a day. It reduces the redness, thickness, and scaliness of psoriasis plaques.
You might also have diarrhea, nausea, an upper respiratory tract infection, headaches, and other side effects. You could lose weight without trying, so your doctor will keep track of how much you weigh.
Infliximab (Remicade). You get this through an IV while in a doctor's office. The session lasts 2 to 3 hours. You'll follow-up 2 and 6 weeks after the first dose. After that you'll get treatments every 8 weeks.
Ixekizumab (Taltz). This medicine is given by injection. Because this drug affects the immune system, serious allergic reactions or infections can occur. This includes the development or worsening of inflammatory bowel disease. Side effects include fungal infections, upper respiratory infections and injection site reactions.
Ustekinumab (Stelara). You take it by an injection. After the first shot, you get another shot 4 weeks later, and then an injection every 12 weeks.
It lessens the thickness of your psoriasis patches, while easing scaling, and redness.
What’s the Link Between Biologics and Infections?
Your immune system helps your body fight infections. Since biologics lower those defenses, taking them could make you more likely to get other infections and diseases.
Some of these drugs could cause a long-term disease that your body now has under control, like tuberculosis, to flare up again. Your doctor may not prescribe them if you take other medications that curb the immune system.
You could get a serious infection because your body can’t fight off fungi, bacteria, or viruses like it usually does. Call your doctor right away if you notice any sign of an infection, like a fever, feeling rundown, a sore throat, or a cough. He may want to stop your medication for a while so your immune system has a chance to recover and help medical treatment fight the infection. Also, children and teens treated with biologics have developed lymphoma and other cancers.