Systemic Therapies for Psoriasis: An Evidence-Based Update

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Abstract

Background

The treatment of psoriasis has evolved over the years, with the focus now largely on the use of biologic agents. With treatment options expanding, evidence-based studies to guide physicians’ treatment decisions become increasingly important.

Objective

Our objective was to review current literature to provide an evidence-based update on systemic therapies for psoriasis.

Methods

A systematic review of the literature was conducted from 1 January 2012 through 1 July 2013 to identify all randomized clinical trials and systematic reviews of systemic psoriasis treatments.

Results

A total of 46 publications were identified and reviewed. Randomized clinical trials for the treatment of psoriasis focused heavily on biologic agents, both currently approved agents and anti-interleukin (IL)-17 agents in development. The anti-IL-17 agents appear effective according to phase II clinical trials. Several new oral agents are being studied, and, although they do not appear as effective as the biologic agents, they may be an option as an alternative to traditional oral agents, with more favorable safety profiles. Several systematic reviews focused on efficacy among the biologics, with infliximab consistently superior to the others, and etanercept the least effective of the tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors. Longer-term safety data on biologics is now available and encouraging.

Limitations

Current studies of traditional oral therapies are lacking.

Conclusions

Current studies continue to support the use of biologic agents in the treatment of moderate to severe psoriasis, with better efficacy and safety profiles than traditional systemic agents. Newer anti-IL-17 agents and several new oral agents are in development and have shown promise in clinical trials.