Reasons for switching to a new drug

When it comes to treating psoriasis, there are many options, including:

  • Topicals such as creams, lotions, and ointments applied directly to psoriatic lesions
  • Light therapy, which can be used to help clear up psoriasis
  • Systemic medications, including oral or injectable medications that suppress your immune system to reduce inflammation throughout the body
  • Biologic drugs, which are new injection or infused drugs that target the source of inflammation contributing to psoriasis

Everyone reacts differently to each of these options. Finding the right treatment plan can take some trial and error. Some people see significant improvement with the first drug they try, while others have to try a few options to find the one that works best.

Even then, what works for you initially may not continue to work in the long run. You may need to reevaluate your treatment a few times over the years if you notice new or worsening symptoms and flare-ups.

Anytime you consider switching to a new medication, you’ll probably feel nervous and wonder what to expect. Your dermatologist can help you transition smoothly from one medication to another.

Here’s why it might be a good idea to try a new treatment for psoriasis.

There’s nothing more frustrating than going through your treatment plan and still having psoriasis flare-ups. If you’re unhappy with the way your skin looks, it might be time to consider switching, especially if you’ve been on an older medication.

New biologic drugs have transformed the treatment of psoriasis. Today, many people with moderate to severe psoriasis can achieve 100% skin removal with biological treatment. If you still have large areas of psoriasis during your current treatment, switching to a new medication could make your skin clearer.

Research has shown that people with psoriasis who switched medications achieved better PASI scores. PASI is the tool dermatologists use to assess the severity of psoriasis and determine if treatments are working.

Each psoriasis treatment comes with a list of potential side effects. For example, light therapy may increase your risk of skin cancer. Biologic drugs can increase the risk of infection.

Specific drugs within each class may have their own side effects.

Topical steroids can thin your skin. Topical calcineurin inhibitors may cause skin burns or irritation.

Within the biological class, infliximab (Remicade) and adalimumab (Humira) are more likely to cause weight gain than other options, such as ustekinumab (Stelara).

Switching to a medication that doesn’t cause side effects may help you stick to your treatment plan. When switching medications, review its list of potential side effects with a doctor so you know what to expect.

Some psoriasis medications work better for some people than for others. For example, the effects of adalimumab (Humira) do not seem last as long in both women and men.

People who are overweight or obese may notice better results with infliximab (Remicade) or ustekinumab (Stelara) than with other biologics because the dosage of these drugs is based on weight.

Factors such as your gender, weight, and medical history can help direct your doctor to the treatment that’s right for you.

Psoriasis treatments come in different forms. Some delivery methods may suit you better than others.

Lotions and creams are easy to use. But they can also be greasy, take a long time to apply, and leave stains on your clothes.

Oral options are less messy, but you have to remember to take every dose.

Organic products offer the convenience of only having to take them every few weeks. The downside is that you will either have to go to an infusion center or get an injection. If you’re not a fan of needles, organic products may not be the best choice for you.

Ultimately, the psoriasis medication that will work best for you is the one that you are most likely to take as prescribed.

Biologic drugs are effective but expensive. They can cost upwards of $65,000 per year. Even if you have good health insurance, out-of-pocket expenses might be more than you can afford.

One way to save money is to switch to a biosimilar medicine. As their name suggests, biosimilars are designed to work in the same way as biologics, but they are about 30% cheaper.

Another option is to switch to a biologic from a pharmaceutical company that offers financial assistance. Some companies offer discount cards or co-pay assistance to help pay for your medications.

Psoriasis isn’t just about skin flare-ups. The underlying inflammation can also damage your heart and blood vessels, increasing your risk heart disease and strokes. Systemic drugs and biologic drugs perform a dual function by cleansing the skin and reduce the risk of heart problems.

About 30% of people with psoriasis eventually develop psoriatic arthritis. Taking a biologic drug long term can help delay or prevent the development of psoriatic arthritis.

Consult a dermatologist if you are wondering if you would benefit from a change in treatment. Do not stop or start taking medications without first consulting a doctor. Stopping your current medication on your own could lead to a flare-up of psoriasis.

Keep in mind that even if you change treatment, the new medicine is not guaranteed to work better. Your skin may not be completely cleansed or it may cause more side effects.

It may take some trial and error to find the psoriasis treatment that gives you the right balance of skin clearance, convenience, and comfort.

If your current psoriasis treatment isn’t working well or as well as it used to, it might be time to consider a change.

Work with a doctor or dermatologist to determine which option to try and what steps to take to make a smooth treatment transition.