The International Federation of Psoriasis Associations met for a panel discussion regarding the need for better psoriasis treatments aimed at easing the burden on those who suffer from it. They discussed the idea that the burden on patients and health care are drastically underestimated. Better treatment practices are necessary to ease the burden, not only of living with the autoimmune disease, but also from the cost associated with it.
Psoriasis is a painful condition that involves itching and inflammation, in which the skin grows at an abnormally fast rate. The extra skin produced gets infected and flakes off. It is usually found on the hands, knees, elbows, lower back and scalp. The condition can be severe when lesions form and they do not respond well to treatments.
It is the most common autoimmune disease, affecting between two and three percent of the population worldwide. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, as many as 10 and 30 percent of those affected develop psoriatic arthritis, where joint pain is coupled with the skin condition.
Treatments for psoriasis are lacking, however. Psoriatiic arthritis is generally treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, including steroids. Oral drugs, IV injections, topical creams and phototherapy are among the common treatments for the skin condition, but they are not always effective and living with psoriasis comes at a price. $11.25 billion is spent annually on health care costs in an effort to relieve the symptoms of psoriasis. Furthermore, those in other countries lack the ability to get a formal diagnosis and access to treatments.
The panel, consisting of the International Federation of Psoriasis Association, the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and the Society for Women’s Health Research, addressed the concern at a global level. They met at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology and stated that 125 million people suffer from psoriasis worldwide. They discussed the need for better diagnosis, treatment and support for psoriasis sufferers throughout the world. They recognize diagnosis and treatment has progressed, but also acknowledged that more progress is needed. Getting psoriasis recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a serious disease is also one of their goals.
The panel discussion comes on the heels of a recent study by Idera Pharmaceuticals Inc., which shows the promise of an experimental drug for treating psoriasis. IMO-8400 was “well-tolerated” in trials and reportedly helped improve skin in patients suffering from psoriasis.
While nine out of 20 patients experienced a reduction in severity of skin lesions by 50 percent, they did not have any side effects. Further studies are needed, but it shows promise as a powerful new drug to treat psoriasis in the future. Idera will also test another drug aimed at relieving the autoimmune disease later this year, the IMO-9200. It has not yet been through human trials, but it is expected to happen.
Research and studies are expensive, as noted by the panel, but the non-profit organizations hope that more will be done to help those who suffer from psoriasis and more effort will be put into finding a cure for it. Better treatments are needed to offer relief for those affected by the autoimmune disease and improve their quality of life.
By Tracy Rose