VIENNA (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Ixekizumab proved markedly more effective than etanercept for treatment of palmoplantar psoriasis in a head-to-head contest in the landmark phase III UNCOVER-3 trial, Alan Menter, MD, reported at the annual congress of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

Significant improvement in palmoplantar disease was seen as early as week 2 in patients randomized to ixekizumab (Taltz), a humanized monoclonal antibody directed against interleukin-17A. Moreover, the early improvement was maintained out to week 60 with administration of 80 mg of ixekizumab by subcutaneous injection every 4 weeks in the open-label extension phase of UNCOVER-3. This pivotal trial, including 1,346 patients with moderate to severe psoriasis, helped win regulatory approval for ixekizumab for treatment of chronic plaque psoriasis.

Also at the EADV Congress, Kristian Reich, MD, presented an analysis of scalp psoriasis treatment outcomes in UNCOVER-3.

The primary results of UNCOVER-3 have been published. At week 60, at least 80% of patients on maintenance therapy with ixekizumab had a PASI 75 response and at least 73% were rated clear or almost clear ( N Engl J Med. 2016 Jul 28;375[4]:345-56 ).

Dr. Menter and Dr. Reich presented new subgroup analyses focused specifically on palmoplantar and scalp psoriasis because these two expressions of the disease are very important in clinical practice, albeit for different reasons.

Scalp psoriasis is extremely common in patients with plaque psoriasis. In fact, nearly 91% of subjects in UNCOVER-3 had scalp involvement.

“That’s a higher percentage than we’re accustomed to seeing in daily practice. It suggests scalp psoriasis may be more common than previously thought in patients with moderate or severe psoriasis,” said Dr. Reich, professor of dermatology at Georg-August-University in Gottingen, Germany, and a partner at the Dermatologikum Hamburg.

At week 60, more than 77% of patients on ixekizumab achieved a Psoriasis Scalp Severity Index 100 response (PSSI 100), meaning they had complete resolution of their scalp psoriasis. More than 80% achieved a PSSI 90 response indicative of complete or near complete resolution of their scalp involvement, the dermatologist reported.

Palmoplantar psoriasis, Dr. Menter noted, is far less common than scalp psoriasis. He has previously published the estimated prevalence to be 12%-14% among patients with chronic plaque psoriasis. And it’s typically a major headache for dermatologists.

“I often tell my patients that it’s because of palmoplantar psoriasis that I have so many white hairs. It’s certainly a disease that none of us cope with well topically, phototherapy-wise, PUVA-wise, or with systemic therapy. All of the studies done to date with our systemic therapies show significantly lower effect on palmoplantar psoriasis than for psoriasis at other sites. When I did the REVEAL study for Humira [adalimumab], we published a week 16 PASI 75 rate of 71%. When we did the palmoplantar psoriasis cohort, it was less than 40%,” recalled Dr. Menter, who is chair of dermatology at Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas.

“Even though palmoplantar disease affects less than 5% of the body surface area, the quality of life impact for patients with significant palmoplantar pustular or plaque psoriasis is very significant,” Dr. Menter continued. “We’ve worked with our hand surgeons and our foot surgeons to show that the impairment equals that seen in patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis of the hands and feet. So it is a huge issue.”

He reported on the 115 UNCOVER-3 participants with palmoplantar involvement. Within 2 weeks after the first 80-mg dose of ixekizumab, recipients had a 60% improvement in their Palmoplantar Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PPSI) scores.

“It was very dramatic. These are figures that we haven’t seen with methotrexate, with retinoids, or with TNF-alpha blockers,” according to Dr. Menter.

At week 12 in UNCOVER-3, patients randomized to ixekizumab at 80 mg every 2 weeks showed an 85% improvement from baseline in PPSI scores. Those on ixekizumab at 80 mg every 4 weeks had a 78% improvement from baseline, while patients on etanercept at 50 mg twice weekly showed a 52% improvement.

At 60 weeks, PPSI 100 response rates – that is, clear palms and soles – were 60%-70% in the various ixekizumab-treated groups.

“To me, the big issue now is what about palmoplantar pustulosis, a totally different disease, and a disease with equally serious issues for our patients. I’m looking forward to studies in that population. I sincerely hope these new agents such as ixekizumab will have a significant role to play,” he said.

Dr. Menter and Dr. Reich reported receiving research support from and serving as consultants to Eli Lilly, which sponsored the UNCOVER-3 trial and markets ixekizumab, as well as numerous other pharmaceutical companies.


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