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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Johns Hopkins: Risk of Serious Infections from Newer Psoriasis Biologic Medications Similar to Older Biologics

Patients living with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis sometimes require biologic drug treatments to control their autoimmune disease. Among three classes of biologics currently available, the newer drugs are not associated with an increased risk of serious infection — a relatively uncommon but potentially serious complication — as compared to the long-standing biologics that have been available for more than 20 years, according to a study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

For the study, published October 31 in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, the researchers examined commercial insurance database records on patients with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis who were taking drugs that block different immune proteins—medicines that are produced in cultured cells and are called “biologics.” Biologics, a small proportion of drugs dispensed in the U.S., account for a large–and growing–proportion of prescription drug expenditures.

The researchers examined more than 11,000 treatment episodes in over 9,000 individual patients and found that the risk of hospitalization for an infection while using the newer biologics — ustekinumab, secukinumab, and ixekizumab — was not different than the risks known for TNF-α inhibitors, an older class of biologics.

“These findings may help to inform what is often a very complex treatment choice for clinicians and patients,” says senior author Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, a practicing internist and professor in the Bloomberg School’s department of epidemiology.

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