Psoriasis: More than just a skin disease
The theme for this year’s World Psoriasis Day is “BE INFORMED” and aims to promote awareness, empowerment and action for the condition. Here we provide a short overview of this common disease, but if you would like to learn more about psoriasis, or access online support on living with psoriasis, you can explore the range of resources at psoriasisSPEAKS. For additional information on the online events being held throughout Psoriasis Awareness Week 2020 and how you can get involved, visit the Psoriasis Association.
Approximately one in 50 people worldwide have psoriasis and it impacts men and women equally. The most common presentation is patches of skin that are red, dry and scaly, and can be itchy or painful. It is often considered to be ‘just a skin condition’ but is actually a systemic disease which develops when a person’s immune system attacks their own healthy cells. It may be associated with joint damage (psoriatic arthritis), and increases the risk of developing other chronic and serious health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lymphoma, Crohn’s disease, anxiety and depression. It places a high burden on the healthcare system, with an annual cost burden in the US of approximately $35–50 billion, highlighting the need for improved management.
Psoriasis is thought to be caused by a combination of environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors, and can run in families. Risk factors for psoriasis include direct skin trauma, smoking, obesity and alcohol abuse.
So what treatments are available for people with psoriasis? Mild cases can usually be treated with topical treatments and/or light therapy, but for people who do not respond to these treatments or who have moderate-to-severe psoriasis, systemic treatments are needed, such as broad immunosuppressants (e.g. methotrexate) or biological treatments that target specific cells of the immune system (e.g. TNFα inhibitors). Biological treatments have more convenient administration schedules and favourable safety and efficacy profiles; however, these are substantially more expensive than other marketed therapies. The annual cost of healthcare per patient treated with biologics can range between $13,000 and $30,000.
Fortunately, several new biological products are in development, which may reduce the cost burden of psoriasis in the long-term, including JAK inhibitors and RORγt inhibitors. Various biosimilars are also being developed or are already on the market as patents for some biologics expire, increasing access to treatments for patients due to lower costs.
At Bioscript, we are proud to support our clients in this key therapy area, providing unique expertise and insights to help our clients share exciting developments in the life cycle of their products. If you would like to discuss our experience in psoriasis, please get in touch!