Humira is a drug that has recently been approved for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
It is of a class of drugs called “biologics” that act on a portion of the immune system, blocking the immune system response and lessening the autoimmune disease or other immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Humira is somewhat related to Enbrel, a commonly used treatment in both rheumatic arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
In a recent study on psoriasis patients, patients were given every other week injections of Humira for a total of 24 weeks (twelve to thirteen injections total). Of those given Humira, 42 percent of those with moderate to severe psoriasis had a ninety percent or better improvement in their psoriasis.
About 65 percent of patients showed a 75 percent or greater reduction in the appearance of their psoriasis and in symptoms related to psoriasis. Almost all patients revealed that their experience of their quality of life was not affected by having psoriasis. I guess this answers the question “Is humira an effective psoriasis treatment?
It is estimated that between 4 and 6 million patients in the US suffer from psoriasis, although most have mild to moderate plaque-type psoriasis involving the elbows and knees on the outer aspects. Milder cases are treated with coal tar preparations, Accutane or other retinoids, UVB and UVA light therapy, methotrexate, cyclosporine, and topical corticosteroid creams. Each drug works to help psoriasis but most have some side effects that make it difficult to use over the long haul.
Biologics for psoriasis came along in 2003 and the drug called Amevive was the first to be used to treat severe psoriasis. More recently Raptiva came along with the same expectation that it helps psoriasis victims with moderate to severe symptoms. Enbrel and Humira are also biologics approved for the treatment of moderate to severe psoriasis.
They work by targeting a specific protein known as TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor-alpha) which plays a big role in the inflammatory response that goes on to trigger psoriasis. Humira is just the latest of these amazing biologics that act on the problem at hand with fewer side effects from the other treatment modalities.
Humira and related drugs appear to control psoriasis for many weeks and months after stopping the therapy. This cuts down on the overall cost of therapy and the patient can be medication-free while having an improvement in their symptoms that lasts. Many patients find that Humira is the best medication for psoriasis that they have ever had.
In another study, patients received a placebo or Humira at 40 mg injections every other week. After three months, the placebo patients were given Humira and both sets of patients completed a 6-month course. In the study, 64 percent of patients receiving the every-two-week injections reached a 75 percent improvement in the quality of their psoriasis and 40 percent of the patients receiving Humira stated that there was no impact of psoriasis on their life after 3-6 months of therapy.
The side effects were practically nothing and the rest of their immune system appeared unaffected by having to take Humira. Only the psoriasis was improved and without major side effects.