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Experimental Psoriasis Drug Bests Older Treatment
Date:10/27/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental psoriasis treatment performed significantly better than the commonly prescribed medication methotrexate in a new clinical trial.

The drug briakinumab reduced psoriasis symptoms by at least 75 percent in nearly 82 percent of those taking it, compared to just 40 percent of those on methotrexate. But serious side effects were more common among the briakinumab users.

"Very high levels of response" were observed and maintained throughout the study period, said lead researcher Dr. Kristian Reich, a professor of dermatology at the University of Gottingen and a managing partner at Dermatologikum Hamburg, both in Germany.

Results of the study are published in the Oct. 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was funded by the drug's manufacturer, Abbott Laboratories.

Psoriasis affects about 5 million Americans, according to the U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). The disease causes patches of thick, red, inflamed skin that have silvery scales. Psoriasis can affect any part of the body, including the skin, nails, genitals and inside the mouth, according to NIAMS.

The current study included 317 people with moderate to severe psoriasis. The study volunteers had had psoriasis for at least six months, and the condition affected at least 10 percent of their bodies.

Nearly half of the study participants were randomly selected to receive injections of briakinumab at a dose of 200 milligrams (mg) for the first and fourth week of the study, and 100 mg at week eight and every four weeks thereafter. The study lasted one year. The remaining volunteers were given between 5 mg and 25 mg of oral methotrexate weekly.

After six months, nearly 82 percent of those in the briakinumab group had at least a 75 percent improvement in the psoriasis area-and-seve
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