After trying out some more traditional treatment options for psoriasis, your doctor may eventually prescribe you a biologic response modifier, aka biologics. Most psoriasis medications, taken by injections, contain chemical or plant-based compounds and substances whereas biologics are made from living protein cells.
As opposed to drugs that affect the entire immune system to alleviate psoriasis symptoms, biologics specifically target the immune system response that contributes to the rapid growth of new skin cells, which causes the psoriasis lesions or patches.
Biologics are highly robust and probably the most effective psoriasis treatments, which is why they are often reserved for moderate to severe cases of psoriasis. Unfortunately, biologics are not cheap and can cost up to $30,000 a year, so you need to the right health coverage or look for a patient assistance program for financial aids.
Are there any risks and side effects?
If you think you might benefit from biologics, the first step is to consult your doctor to learn more about it and determine whether a biologic drug is a right treatment for you considering all the risks and side effects. For instance, if your immune system is already in distress or you have an infection, biologics are not an option as biologics put you at a higher risk of an infection already.
If you experience symptoms akin to flu such as fever and strep throat or notice any open cuts or wounds, get in touch with your physician as soon as possible. Respiratory and injection site infections are also common side effects of biologics.
Most Common Biologics
Cosentyx is an FDA-approved medication that treats plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Cosentyx reduces inflammation, lessen the severity of psoriasis symptoms, and clear the skin considerably by preventing the action of the chemical messenger, interleukin-17A.
It is taken intravenously once a week for the first five weeks and then once every month. The side effects of cosentyx include diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, and respiratory infections.
Humira is used to treat psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Humira has a similar role to cosentyx and inhibits the action of another chemical messenger known a tumor necrosis factor-alpha, which triggers cells to induce inflammation.
In addition to reducing inflammation, Humira also improves the appearance of psoriasis patches dramatically. Just as with cosentyx, Humira is taken by injection and needs to be taken consistently. The side effects of Humira include headaches, rashes, respiratory infections, and nausea.
Enbrel is used to treat psoriasis as well as psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The action of Enbrel is practically identical to that of Humira as it stops the signal of the same chemical messenger, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, to prevent inflammation. Enbrel, however, is especially effective for those with plaque psoriasis.
The drug is taken intravenously once or twice per week and needs to be taken regularly to get and maintain results. The side effects of Enbrel include strep throat, dizziness, cough, and upset stomach.
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