Use of Biologic Agents in Pediatric Psoriasis

August 2010 | Volume 9 | Issue 8 | Original Article | 975 | Copyright © August 2010

Jackleen S. Marji MD PhD, Rebecca Marcus MD, Jessica Moennich MD, Julian Mackay-Wiggan MD MS

Psoriasis affects approximately 2 percent of the population. Approximately 30–45 percent of those affected first experience symptoms during childhood or adolescence. Although biologics have proven to be a relatively safe and effective treatment option for adults with psoriasis, limited information is available regarding the use of biologic agents in pediatric patients with psoriasis. The authors attempt to assess and summarize the available data on the use of biologic agents in patients under the age of 18, regardless of the indication, as well as to examine the limited available data on the use of biologics for psoriasis in the pediatric population. In doing so, the authors aim to provide guidance on the safety and efficacy of biologic therapies in pediatric patients with psoriasis. The authors’ findings suggest that biologic agents should be considered for use solely in children with psoriasis that is refractory to conventional therapies, including children currently with severe, widespread, refractory pustular, plaque or psoriatic arthritis. Of all the currently available biologics, etanercept appears to have resulted in fewer and less severe side effects compared to infliximab in the juvenile rheumatoid arthritis population. In addition, while biologics are generally safe and effective in the pediatric population, serious adverse events (including infection), have been reported in the literature and should be taken into account before beginning treatment with any biologic agent. The physician and parents of the patient must carefully consider the risk-benefit ratio when deciding whether to use these medications. Additional randomized, controlled trials are needed to adequately assess the safety and efficacy of biologic medications for childhood psoriasis.