The safety and efficacy of new psoriasis drugs continues to expand. In February, the FDA approved a new drug called Tremfya™ (guselkumab) for the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in adults. Psoriatic arthritis is another common condition triggered by psoriasis, where painful inflammation can affect multiple joints at once. It’s estimated that almost one-third of people with psoriasis will develop this condition at some point in their lifetime.
Tremfya is a biologic immunotherapy for both types of inflammatory diseases. Approved for patients who have tried other treatments with little success, it belongs to a class of medicines known as anti-IL17 therapies and is more effective than previous versions before it. Let’s take a closer look at how this drug works and what you should know if you are suffering from either disease.
What is Tremfya?
Tremfya is an injectable drug intended for the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in adults. It belongs to a class of medicines known as anti-IL17 therapies, which inhibit certain substances (interleukin-17) that contribute to the development and progression of both diseases. Tremfya is a biosimilars drug, which means it’s similar to a biologic medicine that was originally developed from living cells.
How does Tremfya Work?
Tremfya works by targeting specific substances in your body that are thought to be responsible for the progression of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It specifically targets IL-17, a pro-inflammatory cytokine (a protein involved in the communication and regulation of cell function) that is believed to contribute to the progression of both diseases. By blocking IL-17, tremfya works to reduce inflammation and prevent the further spread of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
Measuring the progress of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can be difficult when dealing with the symptoms. Tremfya can be particularly helpful for people whose psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are not responding to other treatments. The FDA approved the drug in February 2019 for patients who had not seen positive results after trying approved treatments for at least 12 weeks.
Psoriatic arthritis can be treated with steroid-based medications. As with psoriasis, the immunosuppressant drugs methotrexate, cyclosporine, and acitretin are commonly used. Some people may also benefit from newer drugs like etanercept or golimumab.
Psoriatic arthritis is usually treated with a combination of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and joint laser or injections. The goal is to reduce pain and swelling and to slow disease progression. Psoriatic arthritis symptoms typically last a lifetime, but can be managed with treatment.
Treatment for psoriasis is focused on reducing inflammation and stopping the progression of the disease. It’s important for people with psoriasis to work closely with their doctors to find the best treatment for their specific condition. Psoriasis is usually treated with topical prescription medications like corticosteroids, vitamin D analogs, or retinoids.
Other treatment options include phototherapy (light therapy), biologic therapies, and traditional oral medication. The most effective treatments for psoriasis are usually the least invasive. However, since every person’s psoriasis is different, there’s no single “best” treatment for everyone.
While tremfya is reported to be safe, it does come with some potential side effects. The most common side effects associated with tremfya include joint pain, rash, itching, headache, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, muscle pain, joint swelling, and joint tenderness. Tremfya has not been studied in people younger than 18 years old. It is not recommended for use in pregnant women or people who have a history of certain cancers.
Tremfya is a new brand-name drug used to treat severe forms of psoriasis. It belongs to a class of drugs called anti-IL-17 therapies, which inhibit certain substances (interleukin-17) that contribute to the progression of both diseases. Tremfya was approved by the FDA in February 2019 for patients who have not had success with other psoriasis treatments. Tremfya is effective for both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and may be tried by people who have not found success with other medications.