2 New Drugs Relieve Psoriasis Itch, Scaling
Amevive, Raptiva Provide Significant Relief in Study
Dec. 16, 2003 -- Two new psoriasis treatments look promising,
helping relieve pain, itch, and frequency of scaling.
Studies of the two news psoriasis treatments -- Amevive and
Raptiva -- show both drugs provided significant relief of psoriasis symptoms
Both drugs target immune system cells -- called T-cells -- that
are overactive in psoriasis, an immune system disorder that causes skin cells
to grow too quickly -- explains lead researcher Kenneth Gordon, MD, a
dermatology professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine,
in a news release.
"The skin cells also do not mature normally," says
Gordon. "As a result, the skin piles up and forms red, scaly, thick plaque
lesions." He was lead researcher on both studies.
Gordon's 12-week study of Raptiva involved 556 adults with
moderate to severe psoriasis. Patients received weekly injections of the
psoriasis treatment drug or a placebo.
Researchers checked each patient's head, upper and lower limbs,
and trunk for signs of psoriasis. Patients also reported symptoms like pain,
itching, bleeding, burning, and scaling.
"The [Raptiva] treatment reduced the frequency and severity
of psoriasis symptoms, particularly in the severity of itching and
scaling," says Gordon. That study appears in The Journal of the American
Medical Association (JAMA).
The patients in the study tolerated Raptiva well, according to
the researchers. The most common side effects normally seen with Raptiva are
headache, chills, fever, nausea, and muscle aches that are most commonly seen
within two days of the first dose.
In the Amevive study, 553 patients got one or two 12-week
courses of weekly injections of the psoriasis treatment or a placebo.
T-cell counts were lower in patients getting either one or two
courses of Amevive. But T-cell counts remained within normal limits in about
85% of people receiving Amevive. This suggests that their risk of infection
from a weakened immune system would be minimal.
Those who had the largest decreases in T-cell counts saw the
most improvement in psoriasis symptoms. They also had the longest-lasting
symptom reductions from their psoriasis treatment, reports Gordon. That study
appears in the Archives of Dermatology.
Side effects from Amevive include sore throat, dizziness, and
cough. Amevive contains warnings about the possibility of low immune cell
counts, which could increase the risk of cancer and serious infections.
The studies of Raptiva and Amevive should be heartening news
for many patients searching for new psoriasis treatments.