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Biologics for psoriasis

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Biologics may improve a person's quality of life (calculated using a questionnaire about how happy and healthy a person is feeling). Biologics that inhibit T cells that cause psoriasis also allow for a treatment-free period. Since the effects of biologics last even after the medication is stopped, people with psoriasis can take "drug holidays" in between treatment periods. This may reduce the risk of side effects and also frees the person from taking regular drug treatment.

Alefacept (Amevive™) is the first biologic to become available in Canada for the treatment of moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis in people who are candidates for phototherapy or systemic therapy. It is currently the only biologic available in Canada for psoriasis treatment. It is given once a week for a 12-week treatment course.

Alefacept takes about 8 weeks to begin to produce an improvement in psoriasis symptoms. Full improvement is seen at 18-20 weeks. About 7 out of 10 people notice a meaningful improvement in symptoms after 2 courses of treatment. The improvements often last for about 7-8 months after treatment is stopped. In clinical studies, no rebounds or flare-ups were seen after stopping therapy.

In clinical trials, the overall side effects of alefacept were similar to placebo after one or two courses of therapy. The main side effects include headache, sore throat, runny nose, infection, flu-like symptoms, itching, chills, fatigue, pain, diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, and injection site reactions (pain, inflammation, swelling, bleeding, or lumps at the place where the medication was injected - these reactions usually occur on single occasions). The long-term safety of alefacept and other biologics is still being studied.

People taking alefacept will need a blood test before beginning treatment and every 2 weeks during the treatment period to measure T cell levels. People who are allergic to alefacept or any ingredients of the medication should not use it. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should speak to their doctor, as this medication has not been studied with pregnant or breast-feeding women. People taking alefacept should inform their doctor about health conditions they have, or have had in the past (including cancer or infections).

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Psoriasis-Treatment-News-Biologics