Raptiva Approved for Psoriasis Treatment

High-Tech Drug Blocks Immune Cells That Cause Psoriasis

From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 28, 2003 -- Raptiva is the newest drug to gain FDA approval for chronic moderate to severe psoriasis.

It's the second so-called biologic agent to treat the autoimmune problems at the heart of psoriasis. Raptiva -- generic name, efalizumab -- is a designer antibody. It's designed to throw a monkey wrench into the mechanisms by which immune cells cause psoriasis.

"I've been treating psoriasis for over 15 years and have always been frustrated by the limited options available to treat patients with this chronic disease," Craig Leonardi, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology of Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Mo., and a Raptiva clinical investigator, says in a news release. "Raptiva has the potential to break the cycle of intermittent therapy by offering patients and their doctors a convenient treatment regimen that can be used continuously."

"This is not just a victory for psoriasis patients, it is a victory for biomedical research," Gail Zimmerman, president and CEO of the Psoriasis Foundation, says in a news release. "In just 20 years we have gone from having little understanding of the roots of psoriasis to seeing the FDA approve drugs, like Raptiva, that improve a patient's symptoms by targeting specific cells in the immune system. The biologic revolution is generating valuable new choices for those living with this incurable disease."

Raptiva is administered by a once-weekly injection under the skin. Patients give themselves the simple injections at home.

Other biologic drugs that can or could potentially be used to treat psoriasis include: