A variety of treatment options are available to manage psoriasis. Biologics are the newest class of FDA-approved psoriasis drugs. They work very differently from other available psoriasis treatments.
Biologics have been used to treat psoriasis since 2003. However, many people still have questions about them.
Here’s how biologics are different from other treatment options.
Biologics are a class of drugs. They are made in the laboratory from proteins derived from living cells.
Biologics are a new type of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD). They were developed to target specific actions of the immune system thought to contribute to psoriasis.
Several biologic drugs are approved to treat psoriasis, as well as other types of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Biologics work differently than other psoriasis treatments. They target the overactive immune system response to stop it at its source.
A typical immune system works to protect the body against foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses. Psoriasis is thought to occur when the immune system goes into overdrive and reproduces skin cells at an accelerated level. These cells accumulate on the surface of the skin, contributing to psoriasis lesions.
Traditional DMARDs treat psoriasis by suppressing the overactive immune system on a general level. Biologics work to block specific proteins in the inflammatory process that leads to psoriasis lesions. This helps reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms of psoriasis.
Biologics are currently the most targeted treatment option available for psoriasis.
Biologics are one of the many treatment options available for psoriasis. They are usually only prescribed to treat moderate to severe cases.
Other treatments that may work for milder cases of psoriasis include:
- topical creams
- anti-inflammatory drugs
- retinoid medications
You may need to try these other treatment options first before trying a biologic drug.
Sometimes traditional DMARDs are not enough to manage psoriasis. If you are following your treatment plan as prescribed and symptoms persist, talk to your doctor. Biologics are generally not prescribed unless other treatments are not working.
Biologics are known to be quite effective in managing moderate to severe psoriasis.
Biologics are administered either by injection or by infusion. You or a family member can learn to inject at home. Biologics administered by intravenous infusion are administered in a health care setting.
Biologics are also generally taken less frequently than other available psoriasis medications. The timeline can vary from a week to a few months, depending on the type of biologic prescribed.
Your healthcare professional will discuss your treatment plan in detail so you know what to expect.
Organic products are very expensive. The manufacturing process for biologic drugs is complicated, which makes them expensive to produce.
Many insurance companies cover the cost of organic products. Depending on your plan, your co-pay or out-of-pocket expenses can still be expensive. Some drug companies have patient assistance programs to help pay for the cost of these drugs.
The option of biosimilars can help reduce the costs of biologics.
There are currently 13 biologics approved for the treatment of psoriasis in the United States. It may take a few experiments to find the right biologic drug for you.
Not all organic products will work the same for all people. They may also take some time to become fully effective. It can take weeks or even months before you see and feel a difference.
Over time, a biologic that once worked can begin to lose its effectiveness. If this happens, your doctor may recommend that you switch to another biologic drug.
Biosimilars are also entering the market. These drugs work the same way as a biologic, but are made by a different company. Biosimilars may also be a good treatment option for many people with psoriasis.
However, there have been barriers to bringing biosimilars to market. There are often legal challenges with patents, which has so far slowed the number of biosimilars available.
People with psoriasis are more likely to develop a type of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis (PS).
Along with PsA, an overactive immune system response similar to that which attacks the skin in psoriasis also targets the joints. Left untreated over time, this can lead to permanent joint damage.
Biologics can be used to block the immune response that attacks the joints. This prevents permanent joint damage caused by PSA.
Many biologic drugs can help manage both psoriasis and PA. Some biologics can also be used to manage other inflammatory autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease.
Biologics work differently than other available psoriasis treatments. They calm the inflammation in the body that contributes to psoriasis by targeting the overactive immune response.
Organic products are not for everyone. Work with your doctor to determine if a biologic drug may be right for you.