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New psoriasis drug clears skin in one-third of patients

By Melissa Leavitt

Approximately one-third of patients on a new psoriasis drug had clear skin after three months on the medication, according to recently released clinical trial results. The drug, ixekizumab, targets interleukin 17A (IL-17A), which is a cytokine, or protein, involved in inflammation. Clinical trial results for two other drugs targeting IL-17, brodalumab and secukinumab were released earlier this year.

Eli Lilly, ixekizumab's manufacturer, issued a press release on the results for ixekizumab on Friday.

Three separate clinical trials involving 3,866 patients tested the safety and effectiveness of the drug. Trials were held in 21 countries, including sites in North America, South America, Asia, Europe and Australia.

In one trial, called UNCOVER, patients were assigned to take either ixekizumab or a placebo. The other two trials, UNCOVER-2 and UNCOVER-3, compared ixekizumab with Enbrel (etanercept). Enbrel (etanercept) is a biologic medication that targets another cytokine called tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha).

According to Eli Lilly's statement, 78-90 percent of the patients taking ixekizumab experienced at least a 75 percent improvement in their psoriasis after twelve weeks, as measured by the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI 75). Of these patients, 31-41 percent achieved 100 percent improvement (PASI 100) after twelve weeks, which is clear skin.

In comparison, only 5-7 percent of patients taking Enbrel achieved PASI 100, the statement reports.UNCOVER, the study testing ixekizumab against a placebo only, kept patients on the drug for 60 weeks. Throughout the entire study period, patients maintained "high levels of response," according to the press release.

The most common side effects for ixekizumab were colds and infections around the site of the injection, and in the trials comparing ixekizumab with Enbrel, the frequency and severity of side effects were similar for the two drugs, according to the release.

Next year, Eli Lilly plans to submit ixekizumab to regulatory authorities.

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