Psoriasis: Everything Old is New Again

Goeckerman therapy is a safe, cost effective psoriasis treatment

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A new class of intravenous and injectable medicines known as biologics are revolutionizing treatment for psoriasis, but they are expensive and may exhaust financial resources. Looking back at traditional therapies may be worth the time.

Doctors at the University of Michigan Health System suggest that patients and their doctors take a look at long-established treatment alternatives, like Goeckerman therapy. The older treatments can be much cheaper and don't have the risk factors of some of the immune system-suppressing biologics.

Goekerman therapy is very cheap, $10,000-$12,000 versus $22,000-$59,000 for new biologic treatments.

"Consider Goeckerman therapy for psoriasis threatment."

Thomas Anderson, M.D., medical director of the Day Treatment Center and associate professor of dermatology at the University of Michigan Medical School observes that when new treatments emerge, everyone wants to come to that party.

Goeckerman does have many advantages over biologics. It is an intensive three-week tar and light therapy, but provides quick relief for many patients and allows them to wear revealing clothes and participate in summer activities without being self-conscious about skin plaques. Most importantly, it's not a lifelong treatment. 

Allen Bruce, M.D., Ph.D., a psoriasis researcher and lecturer in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Michigan Medical School echoes Anderson's sentiments, adding that the modified Goeckerman treatment has some other advantages, saying, “It can be good for people who have certain risk factors, such as multiple sclerosis, cancer or a history of chronic infections."

A record of safety and effectiveness indicates that the current trend toward abandonment of this treatment as an option for psoriasis treatment should be reversed.

 The Study

  • Remissions can last up to 10 years, but many patients require treatment every year or two
  • Biologics can provide relief for patients with psoriatic arthritis; Goeckerman does not
  • Some patients pursue a combination of treatments that includes both biologics and Goeckerman
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 2, 2011
Last Updated:
May 26, 2011