Trial drug stays effective for psoriasis, even after a break

| Melissa Leavitt

If you've ever taken a break from your psoriasis medication, you may wonder how well it will work when you start it again.

A Phase III trial for tofacitinib, an oral drug in development, tested the effects of restarting treatment after stopping for several months.

Almost two-thirds of patients whose skin significantly improved during their first course of treatment achieved similar results the second time around, according to findings presented by the drug manufacturer on May 23.

The trial involved 674 patients and lasted 14 months. For the first six months, patients were randomly assigned to take either a placebo or 5- or 10-milligram (mg) doses of the pill. Results showed that 68 percent of patients in the 10-mg group, and 44 percent in the 5-mg group, experienced a 75 percent reduction in psoriasis severity (or PASI 75, as measured by the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index). In addition, 63 percent of patients taking the 10-mg dose, and 42 percent taking the 5-mg dose, were assessed as having "clear" or "almost clear" skin.

Next, half of the patients who achieved these results were switched to a placebo until their psoriasis significantly worsened, or until four months had passed, whichever came first. At that point, they began taking tofacitnib again at their original dose for another four months.

After this second treatment period, 61 percent of patients taking the 10-mg dose, and almost 37 percent taking the 5-mg dose, regained PASI 75. More than 57 percent in the 10-mg group, and almost 45 percent in the 5-mg group, achieved "clear" or "almost clear" skin.

Tofacitinib targets Janus kinase, an enzyme linked to psoriasis inflammation. It is currently available in the U.S. under the brand name of Xeljanz for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Pfizer, the manufacturer of tofacitinib, plans to submit these results to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with data from four other trials, by early 2015. Results from two other Phase III trials were released last month.


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

Doctor and patient in the exam room
What does your primary care provider have to do with managing your psoriatic...
People meeting around a table for discussion
Have we developed the tools to turn psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis into...
The Patient Navigation Center helps a woman whose PsA went undiagnosed for...
hands holding signs numbers 1 through 5
Psoriatic arthritis is a complicated disease. Learn something new today.
FDA approval stamp
Clinical trial data show drug may help you achieve clear skin.
Test tubes in a lab
A study of immune cells points to clues on how psoriasis makes a person more...
Man with joint pain
A physical therapist weighs in on the exercises and activities you can do even...
NPF volunteer at a Team NPF Cycle event
When a new doctor finally took a close look at all of Erin Faulhaber’s symptoms...
Advocates visiting Congress
Forced to retire early because of his PsA, former diplomat Stephen Keat...