Hitting the bullseye with psoriasis treatments

More treatment options for psoriasis are available than ever before; however, research shows that the disease is still a significant problem for many. Surveys conducted by the National Psoriasis Foundation among psoriasis patients reveal that most people living with the disease are either dissatisfied with their treatment or not using treatments appropriate to their level of disease severity.

Now NPF’s Medical Board has set specific treatment goals that will make achieving clear or almost clear skin the new standard of care for psoriasis. This treatment strategy, known as “treat to target,” was published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in November 2016.

“Treat to target” is a disease treatment strategy whereby a patient and their health care provider set specific targets or goals for improved health outcomes. The goals are meant to reduce the severity of plaque psoriasis so it covers 1 percent or less of a patient’s body within three months after starting a new treatment. (One percent of a patient’s body is roughly the equivalent to the surface area of the palm of their hand.)

Once patients reach that 1 percent goal, they should check in with their provider every six months to ensure they’re still experiencing the same amount of clearance. Patients are then monitored with those targets in mind and, if progress is not yet achieved treatments may be changed, modified or intensified to help them reach that goal.

The targets also specify an “acceptable” response, which is when a patient’s psoriasis covers 3 percent or less of a patient’s body surface area, or the patient has experienced at least 75 percent improvement, after three months. In this case, the patient and provider may choose to stay on the current treatment and reevaluate in another three months.

The idea is to allow the patient and their health care provider to take greater control of the disease so the patient may achieve lower disease activity and, overall, a higher quality of life. Treatment decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis. Patients and providers can discuss options, which include changing treatment, adding on a new treatment, or in some cases, staying the course on current treatment.

Other treat to target strategies are used by physicians for a number of other diseases, but this is the first time specific treatment targets have been applied to treating psoriasis among patients in the United States. Providers, please click here for more information.

Establishing such recommendations for psoriasis aligns with NPF’s mission to drive efforts to cure psoriatic disease and dramatically improve the lives of those affected. Please continue to visit this web page as we will be unveiling more information about treat to target in the weeks ahead.