THURSDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Newer, more expensive medications don't work much better for the chronic inflammatory skin disease known as psoriasis than the standard treatment, a new study indicates.
The researchers found that biologics, which can cost upwards of $10,000 a year, were slightly more effective than a standard drug treatment for psoriasis, methotrexate, but that their impact lessened over time.
The findings provide only limited hope for psoriasis sufferers, who sometimes stop traditional treatments because of nausea and other bad reactions.
"When one looks at the outcome as being clear, or almost clear [skin], the biologics appear to be more effective than methotrexate," said study author Dr. Joel Gelfand. But, when total body surface area affected by the disease is added in that difference diminishes, he said.
The study, published in the April issue of the Archives of Dermatology, was conducted from February 2010 through June 2011 in clinics at the University of Pennsylvania and University of Utah, as well as six private practices around the country. It was designed to look at treatment "in real-world conditions," as opposed to clinical trials, which have showed better results in the past, the study said.
Psoriasis, an autoimmune system disease, causes itchy, scaly, red patches of skin, mostly on the elbows, knees and torso. Moderate to severe rashes afflict about 25 million people worldwide, including 1.4 million people in the United States.
The condition usually emerges in early adulthood, and is associated with elevated risks of cardiovascular disease and early death, according to research cited in the study.
Genetics play an "important role" in who gets psoriasis, said Gelfand, who is also an assistant professor of dermatology and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania, noting that environmental factors such
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