FDA approved to treat:
moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis who are candidates
for systemic therapy (circulates throughout the body because
taken as a pill, injection, or infusion) or phototherapy, and
when other systemic therapies are medically less appropriate.
active psoriatic arthritis. Studies show that adalimumab can
prevent further joint damage and improve one’s ability to
perform everyday tasks from getting dressed in the morning to
What’s involved in taking adalimumab:
themselves an injection. A maintenance dose is usually injected
every other week.
meant for long-term continuous treatment.
be taken while taking some other medications for psoriatic
arthritis, such as methotrexate.
tests for the hepatitis B virus and latent (not causing
symptoms) tuberculosis (TB) are conducted before adalimumab is
Patients on adalimumab therapy are closely
monitored and receive regular follow-up exams.
How adalimumab works: People who have
psoriasis and/orpsoriatic arthritis have too much TNF-alpha, a
chemical found in the immune system. This excess TNF-alpha causes
the immune system to overreact. Adalimumab blocks TNF-alpha and
helps lower the amount of TNF-alpha in the person’s body, which
helps reduce the inflammation that causes psoriasis and psoriatic
Effectiveness: Studies conducted to obtain
approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have
clearing. In a study conducted with people who had psoriasis
and psoriatic arthritis, 3 out of 5 patients had a 75% or
greater skin clearing, and 2 out of 5 had a 90% skin clearing.
In a 52-week clinical trial of patients living with chronic
moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, 71% of the patients who
received 40 mg. of adalimumab achieved a 75% reduction in signs
and symptoms at week 16. During the course of this trial, 50% of
the patients treated with adalimumab achieved a 90% improvement.
One in four of these patients showed full clearance on their
maintained. A 48-week study of patients with psoriatic
arthritis showed that if patients’ joint symptoms improved, the
improvements lasted for the full 48 weeks. In the 52-week
clinical trial of patients with moderate to severe plaque
psoriasis, few who continued receiving adalimumab lost their
Sometimes rapid improvement. Patients with
psoriatic arthritis have experienced improvements as early as 14
days after beginning adalimumab.
and swollen joints. After taking adalimumab for 24 weeks,
nearly 60% of patients with psoriatic arthritis who had tender
and swollen joints reported significant improvement in their joints.
further joint damage. A study that measured joint damage
with before and after x-rays found that the patients in the
study who did not receive adalimumab had 10 times greater joint
Physical improvements. Patients given
adalimumab also had significant improvement in their ability to
perform everyday tasks that included getting dressed, walking,
and climbing stairs. With continued use of adalimumab, these
results were maintained.
Safety and side effects: Studies show that
adalimumab is generally well-tolerated. Since adalimumab suppresses
the immune system, patients have some increased risk of developing
an infection. Taking adalimumab can make an existing infection
In clinical studies, the most common side effects were mild and
consisted of developing an infection or mild injection-site
reaction, such as redness or swelling.
Side effects that are more serious have been reported. Serious
infections, such as a TB infection, can occur. In clinical trials,
more cancers were seen in patients receiving a medication that
blocks TNF, including adalimumab, than in patients who did not
receive a TNF blocker. The most commonly occurring cancers were
lymphoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers.
Gottlieb AB. “Biologics Workshop.” Presented as a workshop (WRK 404)
at the 65th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.
February 2007; Washington, DC.
Menter A, Tyring SK, Gordon K et al. Adalimumab therapy for moderate
to severe psoriasis: A randomized, controlled phase III trial.
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2008; 58: 106-15.
Ogbru, O. “Adalimumab.” MedcineNet.com. Last accessed March 20,
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developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
For an overview, visit
the AAD pamphlet
Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis.