Stelara Beats Enbrel in Psoriasis Study
Researchers Say the Newer Drug May Be an Effective Alternative to an Old Standby
WebMD News Archive
Comparing Enbrel and Stelara continued...
Lebwohl says he's not surprised by the study's outcome. "We've been hearing
about [Stelara] for years." It has been on the market in Europe and Canada for
The study was sponsored by Centocor, the pharmaceutical company that makes
Stelara. Lebwohl has served as an investigator for both Centocor and Amgen, the
company that manufactures Enbrel.
Lebwohl's advice to people with psoriasis is to weigh their options. Many
patients do well on Enbrel, and it has a long safety track record. Stelara, on
the other hand, is more effective than Enbrel, but it has not been around
long enough to fully gauge how safe it is, he notes.
Data from the 12-week study found that within this short frame, the safety
of the two drugs was generally similar. However, Lebwohl cautions that three
months is too short a time to determine if Stelara will eventually increase the
risk for infections or cancer. Biologic agents affect the body's immune
system, which explains this potential risk.
Sonia Fiorenza, Amgen's director of corporate communications, echoes these
safety concerns in an email. Dermatologists' No. 1 concern in treating
psoriasis is long-term safety. While Enbrel has an established safety profile
with more than 17 years of collective clinical experience, this study does not
provide comparative efficacy and safety data beyond three months, she
Psoriasis affects at least 2% of the world's population. For the most part
it is a young person's disease, with three-quarters of cases appearing before
the age of 40. It is not contagious and there is no cure.
People with moderate to severe psoriasis face significant psychosocial
difficulties including depression and isolation. Often they will avoid public
places like swimming pools or gyms because even though psoriasis is
not contagious, the public perceives it to be so, Griffiths says.
"The advent of the biologic therapies has been life transforming for a lot
of patients," he notes.