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Newer Drug More Effective in Psoriasis Treatment
Date:1/13/2010

Stelara tops Enbrel in head-to-head comparison and requires fewer injections, researchers say,,

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- The estimated 7.5 million Americans suffering from psoriasis often have to tolerate long-term treatment that may be only moderately effective.

Now, a new drug called ustekinumab (Stelara) appears to be more effective than the old standby, etanercept (Enbrel), according to the results of a head-to-head comparison sponsored by the maker of Stelara.

"Ustekinumab is a more effective and faster acting therapy for psoriasis than the current biologic market leader for this condition," said lead researcher Dr. Christopher E.M. Griffiths, a professor of dermatology at the University of Manchester in England.

Enbrel and Stelara are biologic agents, which work by blocking proteins produced in the body. Enbrel blocks tumor necrosis factor alpha, while Stelara inhibits interleukin-12 and interleukin-23.

This is the first head-to-head trial of two biologic therapies for psoriasis, Griffiths noted. Psoriasis is a chronic, autoimmune disease that appears on the skin.

The report is published in the Jan. 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Centocor Research and Development sponsored the study.

For the study, Griffiths and colleagues randomly assigned 903 patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis to two different doses of Stelara injected 30 days apart or to high-dose Enbrel injections twice a week for 12 weeks.

After 12 weeks of treatment, 67.5 percent of the patients receiving 45 milligrams of Stelara had a 75 percent improvement in their condition, according to the psoriasis area-and-severity index, as did 73.8 percent of those receiving 90 milligrams of Stelara.

Only 56.8 percent of those receiving Enbrel showed a similar improvement, the researchers found.

In addition, based on doctors' assessments, 65.1 percent
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