Etanercept for the Treatment of Psoriasis: Combination Therapy with other Modalities

May 2004 | Volume 3 | Issue 3 | Original Article | 270 | Copyright © May 2004

Bruce E. Strober, MD, PhD and Shari Clark, BA

Etanercept is a self-administered medication that has FDA approval for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Etanercept is a human fusion protein of the tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) and the Fc region of IgG1 that binds to and presumably inhibits the pro-inflammatory and pro-proliferative activity of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF). A recent multisite, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study conclusively demonstrates that etanercept as monotherapy effectively treats patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. This effect is dose-responsive, with the etanercept 50 mg twice-weekly dose significantly more effective than the 25 mg twice-weekly dose in reducing the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score over both 12 and 24 weeks of continuous therapy1. Nevertheless, clinical trials do not instruct the dermatologist on how to practically integrate etanercept into a patient’s pre-existing treatment regimen. Many psoriasis patients are already on other systemic therapies or have a medical history that necessitates a tailored approach to their therapy. Further, in some patients, etanercept at 25 mg twice weekly is ineffective in maximally clearing a patient of psoriasis. Below are cases that demonstrate how etanercept can be combined with other medications in order to both maximize clinical efficacy and minimize potential risk.