Watch out Psoriasis: Tremfya Approved
Jordan V. Wang, MD, MBE
Appearances can be dramatically impacted by common skin diseases. Lives can be dominated by skin conditions that some may find unattractive, messy, and even unsexy. But the fact is that everyone has their own cross to bear--some visible, some unseen. Psoriasis is one of these conditions that can control a person’s ability to go to the pool, have relationships, and feel attractive to others. While this article does not delve into the psychological aspects of skin diseases, it’s important to note how medical conditions can impact society.
Plaque psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease that often presents as red, scaly, and thick skin lesions. These typically appear on elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, and buttocks. Psoriasis is rather common as it currently affects about 2-3% of all Americans.
With significant disease known to be rather difficult to control, pharmaceutical companies have been pouring money into research and drug development for this condition. Recent analysts have pegged our current psoriasis treatment market to be worth around $6-8 billion, which is thought to jump to $12-14 billion by 2024 alone.
Recently, Janssen’s Tremfya (guselkumab) has won FDA approval for use in plaque psoriasis. It is currently planned to be marketed in Q3 of 2017. The approval was based on three different Phase III studies evaluating the drug in about 2,000 patients total. The NAVIGATE study showed that those who have inadequate responses to Stelara (ustekinumab) and switched to Tremfya had greater improvements in skin clearance and other measures than those who continued using Stelara. The two VOYAGE studies revealed that Tremfya had improved skin clearance and disease activity when compared to both placebo and Humira (adalimumab).
For those who like to know how these drugs work, Tremfya acts by selectively blocking interleukin-23 (IL-23), which is a protein that plays a crucial role in the inflammation of plaque psoriasis. Blocking this particular pathway is thought to reduce inflammatory signaling and subsequently decrease the chronic inflammation seen in this condition.
Tremfya will offer yet another powerful tool in what has recently become a crowded arsenal to fight psoriasis. In the past year, biosimilars, which are near-identical copies of original biologic medications, have also become available in the United States. This occurs when drug patents are set to expire, which happened with Janssen’s Remicade (infliximab), Amgen’s Enbrel (etanercept), and AbbVie’s Humira. These biosimilars will reduce the price of medications and increase their overall availability to patients in the near future.
With our recent pace of drug discovery for psoriasis, expect to see new marketing materials out there soon.
This article appears exclusively on ZALEA.com.