Promising new psoriasis drug wins FDA approval

| Melissa Leavitt

Editor's note: On Dec. 1, 2017, the FDA approved Taltz for treating adults with active psoriatic arthritis.

A new psoriasis drug that can keep patients feeling good inside and out has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Taltz (ixekizumab), a biologic drug manufactured by the drug maker Eli Lilly, won FDA approval for the treatment of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis.

Clinical trial results have shown that Taltz can improve psoriasis by at least 75 percent after three months in more than 80 percent of people taking the drug, delivering completely clear skin to up to about 35 percent of patients in the same period of time. 

New data on the safety and effectiveness of Taltz made headlines at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) meeting in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. According to the data, Taltz may not only get rid of plaques, but it could keep patients clear long-term and improve their quality of life.

In a presentation at AAD, Dr. Andrew Blauvelt, a clinical investigator for the Taltz trials and president of the Oregon Medical Research Center, reported that Taltz stayed effective for more than a year, with more than half of patients in a Phase III trial having clear skin 60 weeks after starting the drug, which was an increase over the number of patients who were clear after three months. Blauvelt also reported that there were no unexpected side effects associated with long-term use of the drug that didn’t come up in the first few months of treatment. 

According to previous data, the most common side effects experienced by patients taking Taltz for three months included the common cold and upper respiratory tract infection.

Other data presented at the meeting offered insight into how Taltz affects specific aspects of patients’ skin and well-being. Here are some highlights:

•    Taltz can offer significant improvement in fingernail psoriasis. After 60 weeks of treatment, researchers reported, up to half of patients on Taltz had completely clear nails.
•    The drug may also improve patients’ sex lives. After three months of treatment, skin-related sexual difficulties improved for up to 81 percent of patients on Taltz, researchers reported. 
•    Taltz can deliver relief for scalp psoriasis. Up to about 75 percent of patients who had scalp psoriasis at the start of treatment had no scalp psoriasis remaining after three months of treatment, according to trial results.
•    Quality-of-life may improve in many patients on Taltz. A trial found that after 60 weeks of treatment, about two-thirds of patients reported that psoriasis did not have any effect on their quality of life.
•    Taltz may be a good alternative for patients who have not seen improvement on other biologics. In a study analyzing how well Taltz worked in patients who had already failed to get results on Enbrel (etanercept), another biologic currently on the market, almost 84 percent of those who switched to Taltz saw 75 percent improvement after three months. Data from the same trial showed that more than 20 percent had completely clear skin in the same amount of time. This suggests that patients who have not improved on Enbrel “have just as good a chance to respond to [Taltz],” Blauvelt said in an interview with the National Psoriasis Foundation.

Taltz targets a cytokine, or pro-inflammatory protein, known as interleukin-17


Driving discovery, creating community

For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

Recent Advance Posts

Headshot of Lourdes Perez Chada
Scientists are building tools that will someday help people sleep better –...
Emma Grace Smith
A Wichita teen overcomes psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis to make it to...
bird's-eye view of Hillel swimming with support crew in boat
Runner-turned-swimmer Hillel Katzeff makes a difference in the Freedom Swim.
Pat Corbin
Pat Corbin’s encounters with two talented physicians have helped to keep both...
Jawbone, chatter teeth
Candace Primack experienced mysterious jaw pain during graduate school. Fifteen...
Kenneth and Alta Birdsong
This world traveler and octogenarian has had psoriasis for 64 years and...
Cheap shampoos
Choosing a product that keeps the itching and flaking at bay doesn’t have to...
Lynne Breaux Arapis
How a lack of good information mobilized one volunteer to get involved and...
In honor of National Volunteer Week, take our 4-question quiz.