Review Article

American Journal of Clinical Dermatology

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 49-59

First online:

Use of Etanercept in the Dermatology Setting

A Review
  • Mark G. LebwohlAffiliated withMount Sinai Medical Center

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As psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are chronic in nature, ideal treatment should have sustained efficacy, with minimal short- and long-term toxicities to allow lifelong treatment. Traditional therapies used for psoriatic arthritis or psoriasis, including phototherapies and systemic agents, do not satisfy these criteria. Ninety percent of patients surveyed in 1998 by The National Psoriasis Foundation were not satisfied with their treatment options.

Several observations have supported the introduction of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonist etanercept as a treatment for psoriatic disease, including the failure of traditional therapies to meet patient needs, evidence that TNF plays a fundamental role in the inflammatory processes underlying psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis, and the safety and efficacy of this agent in other inflammatory, immune-mediated diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Etanercept prevents initiation of the proinflammatory cascade by competitively binding TNF. First indicated for RA, etanercept is also approved for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis, juvenile RA, ankylosing spondylitis, and most recently psoriasis.

Etanercept provides dermatologists with a safe, effective, and convenient treatment option for patients with psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis, which can be used continuously with or without traditional therapies. The self-administered injections provide a distinct advantage over traditional therapies that often require frequent office visits and laboratory monitoring, and other biologic agents that require administration in the doctor’s office. Dermatologists should be aware of the ongoing research with etanercept in psoriasis and other dermatologic conditions.