FDA approved to
moderate to severe psoriatic arthritis. Data shows that etanercept
can reduce signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis as well as
prevent further joint damage.
moderate to severe long-term plaque psoriasis who are candidates
for phototherapy or systemic therapy.
What’s involved in
themselves an injection under the skin once or twice a week.
meant to provide long-term continuous therapy.
for the hepatitis B virus and latent (not causing symptoms)
tuberculosis (TB) are conducted before etanercept is prescribed.
for psoriatic arthritis, a patient may take etanercept along with
a disease-modifying, anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD), such as
are etanercept closely monitored.
Studies show that
when etanercept is used to treat psoriasis and stopped, the
psoriasis tends to gradually return over a 3-month period. In
clinical trials, withdrawal was well-tolerated and did not cause
psoriasis to flare. Reasons to stop taking etanercept may include
the patient’s need for a vaccination, desire to rotate with other
treatment for psoriasis, or plans for a drug “holiday.”
How etanercept works:
Research shows people who have psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
have too much TNF-alpha, a chemical found in the immune system. This
excess TNF-alpha causes the immune system to overreact, which leads
to the inflammation that produces psoriasis lesions and the inflamed
joints of psoriatic arthritis. Infliximab blocks TNF-alpha and helps
lower the amount of TNF-alpha in the person’s body, which prevents
the inflammation that causes psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
Studies conducted to obtain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) have found:
In a phase II clinical study, more than half of the patients with
plaque psoriasis who were taking etanercept twice weekly for 24
weeks had significant improvement. After only 12 weeks, 30% of the
patients had a 75% or greater clearing. By week 24, 56% had at
least 75% clearance, and 50% of these patients were clear or had
minimal psoriasis. A phase III study showed similar results. At
the end of 12 weeks, 34% of patients taking etanercept twice
weekly experienced a 75% or greater clearing. At a higher dose,
49% achieved a 75% or greater clearing at the end of 12 weeks.
In one study, etanercept was not effective for 23% of patients
In a 12-week study involving 60 patients with psoriasis and
psoriatic arthritis, 87% of the patients receiving etanercept had
significant reduction in the number of joints that were tender,
painful, and/or swollen. During the 12 weeks, 26% of the patients
taking etanercept also had a 75% or greater clearing of their
Safety and side
In clinical trials, etanercept is generally well-tolerated.
The most common side effect is a mild to moderate
injection-site reaction, such as redness, itching, pain, or
swelling. These reactions usually occur during the first month and
When taken to treat
rheumatoid arthritis, the medication has an excellent safety
profile. Some patients have taken etanercept for more than 6
consecutive years. Serious side effects remain low over time and
cumulative toxicities have not been observed.
A few serious side
effects have been reported in patients who have psoriasis. These
include neurological disorders and serious infections, such as
Gribetz, C. et al. “Clearing Psoriasis: A New Era of Optimism.”
Contemporary Dermatology 2003: Vol. 1, No. 1: 1-8.
Kipnis CD et al. “Biologic treatments for psoriasis.” Journal of
the American Academy of Dermatology. 2005 April;52(4):671-682.
Mease P et al.
“Diagnosis and treatment of psoriatic arthritis.”
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
All content solely
developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
For an overview, visit
the AAD pamphlet
Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis.