Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Psoriasis Health Center

Font Size

Stelara Beats Enbrel in Psoriasis Study

Researchers Say the Newer Drug May Be an Effective Alternative to an Old Standby
By Joanna Broder
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 13, 2010 -- A recently approved drug, Stelara, is more effective than a more established drug, Enbrel, in treating moderate to severe psoriasis, according to a new study.

The findings, reported this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, may help patients whose extensive psoriasis is not well-controlled to find an alternative treatment.

"I think it's pretty clear that Stelara is a dramatically effective drug, one of the most effective drugs we've ever had for psoriasis," Mark Lebwohl, MD, chairman of the dermatology department at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, tells WebMD. Lebwohl's department was one of 67 sites worldwide to participate in the study.

Both Stelara and Enbrel are biologics -- treatments made up of genetically engineered proteins -- and used to treat patients who have moderate to severe psoriasis that has not responded to traditional systemic therapies such as methotrexate.

But the two drugs have completely different mechanisms of action. While Enbrel blocks tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), Stelara targets two inflammatory chemicals, interleukin 12 and interleukin 23, which are involved in the pathogenesis of psoriasis.

Study researcher Christopher Griffiths, MD, a professor of dermatology at England's University of Manchester Medical School, says if patients taking Enbrel have well-controlled psoriasis, they need not switch to Stelara.

The study's conclusion "just gives those individuals the reassurance that if for some reason the Enbrel stops working, or wasn't working as effectively as it was at the beginning, that there's a proven, logical alternative therapy that they could switch to."

In the study, 903 patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis got either Stelara (high or low dose) or high-dose Enbrel.

Comparing Enbrel and Stelara

At week 12 of the study, 65% of patients in the lower-dose Stelara group and almost 71% of those in the higher-dose Stelara group had, at most, minimal signs of their psoriasis, according to their doctors, compared to 49% of patients treated with Enbrel.

"We've never had a drug that with so few injections worked so well," Lebwohl says. Patients in the Sterlara group got one injection when they started the study and another one four weeks later; patients receiving Enbrel received two injections every week for 12 weeks.

Today on WebMD

Woman sitting in front of UV lights
About 7.5 million people in the U.S. Get the facts.
stress and psoriasis
What might spark your psoriasis today?
woman bathing
Slideshow: Home Remedies For Psoriasis
woman applying lotion
It starts in the immune system. Read on.
Top Psoriasis Treatments To Try At Home
Woman sitting in front of UV lights
Beware Miracle Diets For Psoriasis
Psoriasis Laser Therapy
10 Questions About Psoriasis To Ask Your Doctor
psoriasis on elbow
Psoriasis (Moderate to Severe)
Psoriatic Arthritis Do You Know The Symptoms