FDA Approves Rx for Plaque Psoriasis

Otezla approved to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) More than 125 million people across the globe have psoriasis. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a medicine Tuesday that may be able to treat them.

Otezla (apremilast) was approved last March to treat psoriatic arthritis — a form of arthritis that can affect patients with plaque psoriasis, a condition marked by bumpy, red patches of skin covered in white scales.

Now, the FDA has approved Otezla for another purpose: to treat patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis.

"Otezla offers an important new treatment option for patients whose symptoms are not adequately improving with their current treatments," said Dr. M. Shane Chapman, section chief of dermatology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, in a press release. "In clinical trials, Otezla reduced redness, thickness, and scaliness of plaques in patients with moderate or severe plaque psoriasis."

Those trials tested Otezla on 1,426 patients — and many saw improvement in 16 weeks. But some also had side effects. These included headaches, nausea, diarrhea and upper respiratory tract infections.

Psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation, often presents with other conditions, said Randy Beranek, CEO of the National Psoriasis Foundation. These conditions include heart disease and metabolic syndrome, among others.

"Effectively treating psoriasis is an important part of managing a patient's overall health," he said. "Having a new treatment like Otezla is important so patients can have more options and can work closely with their providers to find what works best for them."

Celgene, which markets Otezla, notes that patients should tell their doctors if they have a history of depression or suicidal thoughts before taking Otezla. 

Review Date: 
September 24, 2014
Last Updated:
September 25, 2014