According to a recent USA Today Network exclusive analysis*, the number of drug side effect reports filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has increased five-fold from 2004 to 2015. This equated to more than 1.2 million reports in 2015.1
This analysis showed that the drugs used to treat psoriasis and other autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease are among those with the greatest number of reports.1 These drugs work by suppressing the immune system, which can increase the risk of serious or even potentially deadly infections such as tuberculosis. They have also been associated with blood diseases, cancer and lymphomas.2
The article goes on to mention Humira (approved to treat 10 different conditions including psoriasis) specifically as an autoimmune drug that has been linked to over 200,000 side effect reports since 2013, including 4,200 deaths.1
The other drugs cited as being top contributors in terms of number of side effect reports are those used to treat multiple sclerosis, a type of cancer, and those used to treat diabetes.1
The authors of the exclusive, Matthew Wynn and John Fauber, acknowledge that although the dramatic increase in reports may be indicative of a growing number of patients being harmed, it could also be a result of more vigilant reporting, which is a goal the FDA is striving to achieve. They go on to say that it very well may be that the increase is a result of a combination of the two, according to experts.1
In addition to the autoimmune drugs that are used to treat psoriasis, topical therapies (such as creams and ointments), other drugs taken orally and light therapy are treatment options that can be considered.3
Light therapy, as stated in the American Academy of Dermatology guidelines of care for the management of psoriasis3: “…is effective and economical without many of the potential toxicities [side effects] of traditional and biologic [autoimmune drug] therapies.”
STRATA Skin Sciences, Inc. focuses on patients suffering from serious dermatologic conditions, such as psoriasis, through medical technologies, including targeted-light therapy.
1 Wynn M and Fauber J for USA Today Network. Analysis: reports of side effects increase fivefold in 12 years. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/03/19/analysis-reports-drug-side-effects-increase-fivefold-12-years/99384190/, accessed March 23, 2017.
2 National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Questions and answers about psoriasis. https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Psoriasis/default.asp#5, accessed March 23, 2017.
3 Menter A, Korman NJ, Elmets CA, for the American Academy of Dermatology Work Group. Guidelines of care for the management of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Section 6. Guidelines of care for the treatment of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis: case-based presentations and evidence-based conclusions. J Am Acad Dermatol 2011;65:137-174.
* John Fauber is a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Matthew Wynn is a reporter for MedPage Today. The original USA Today Network Exclusive story was reported as a joint project of the Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today, which provides a clinical perspective for physicians on breaking medical news.
(Source: PR Newswire)