Biologics appear to be the most effective systemic medicines for achieving a chronic plaque psoriasis score of PASI (Psoriasis Area and Severity Index) 90, according to a newly published Cochrane Review.
Researchers culled the literature to December 2016 for randomized controlled trials that compared the efficacy and safety of conventional systemic agents (acitretin, ciclosporin, fumaric acid esters, methotrexate), small molecules (apremilast, tofacitinib, ponesimod), anti-TNF alpha (etanercept, infliximab, adalimumab, certolizumab), anti-IL12/23 (ustekinumab), anti-IL17 (secukinumab, ixekizumab, brodalumab), anti-IL23 (guselkumab, tildrakizumab), and other biologics (alefacept, itolizumab) for patients with moderate to severe psoriasis and to provide a ranking of these treatments according to their efficacy and safety.
In all, 109 studies were included in the review (39,882 randomised participants, 68 percent men, all recruited from a hospital). The overall average age was 44 years; the overall mean PASI score at baseline was 20 (range: 9.5 to 39). Most of these studies were placebo controlled (67 percent), 23 percent were head-to-head studies, and 10 percent were multi-armed studies with both an active comparator and placebo.
Eighty six trials were multicentric trials (two to 231 centres). All of the trials included in this review were limited to the induction phase (assessment at less than 24 weeks after randomisation); in fact, all trials included in the network meta-analysis were measured between 12 and 16 weeks after randomisation. We assessed the majority of studies (48/109) as being at high risk of bias; 38 were assessed as at an unclear risk, and 23, low risk.
All of the interventions (conventional systemic agents, small molecules, and biological treatments) were significantly more effective than placebo in terms of reaching PASI 90, the analysis showed.
In terms of reaching PASI 90, the biologic treatments anti-IL17, anti-IL12/23, anti-IL23, and anti-TNF alpha were significantly more effective than the small molecules and the conventional systemic agents. Small molecules were associated with a higher chance of reaching PASI 90 compared to conventional systemic agents.
IL-17 Blockers and Guselkumab Best Anti-TNF drugs
At drug level, in terms of reaching PASI 90, all of the anti-IL17 agents and guselkumab (an anti-IL23 drug) were significantly more effective than the anti-TNF alpha agents infliximab, adalimumab, and etanercept, but not certolizumab. Ustekinumab was superior to etanercept. No clear difference was shown between infliximab, adalimumab, and etanercept. Only one trial assessed the efficacy of infliximab in this network; thus, these results have to be interpreted with caution. Tofacitinib was significantly superior to methotrexate, and no clear difference was shown between any of the other small molecules versus conventional treatments.
Network meta-analysis also showed that ixekizumab, secukinumab, brodalumab, guselkumab, certolizumab, and ustekinumab outperformed other drugs when compared to placebo in terms of reaching PASI 90: the most effective drug was ixekizumab (risk ratio (RR) 32.45, 95% confidence interval (CI) 23.61 to 44.60; Surface Under the Cumulative Ranking (SUCRA) = 94.3; high-certainty evidence), followed by secukinumab (RR 26.55, 95% CI 20.32 to 34.69; SUCRA = 86.5; high-certainty evidence), brodalumab (RR 25.45, 95% CI 18.74 to 34.57; SUCRA = 84.3; moderate-certainty evidence), guselkumab (RR 21.03, 95% CI 14.56 to 30.38; SUCRA = 77; moderate-certainty evidence), certolizumab (RR 24.58, 95% CI 3.46 to 174.73; SUCRA = 75.7; moderate-certainty evidence), and ustekinumab (RR 19.91, 95% CI 15.11 to 26.23; SUCRA = 72.6; high-certainty evidence).
There were no significant differences between all of the interventions and the placebo regarding the risk of serious adverse effects. The relative ranking strongly suggested that methotrexate was associated with the best safety profile regarding all of the SAEs (RR 0.23, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.99; SUCRA = 90.7; moderate-certainty evidence), followed by ciclosporin (RR 0.23, 95% CI 0.01 to 5.10; SUCRA = 78.2; very low-certainty evidence), certolizumab (RR 0.49, 95% CI 0.10 to 2.36; SUCRA = 70.9; moderate-certainty evidence), infliximab (RR 0.56, 95% CI 0.10 to 3.00; SUCRA = 64.4; very low-certainty evidence), alefacept (RR 0.72, 95% CI 0.34 to 1.55; SUCRA = 62.6; low-certainty evidence), and fumaric acid esters (RR 0.77, 95% CI 0.30 to 1.99; SUCRA = 57.7; very low-certainty evidence).
Major adverse cardiac events, serious infections, or malignancies were reported in both the placebo and intervention groups. Nevertheless, the SAEs analyses were based on a very low number of events with low to very low certainty for just over half of the treatment estimates in total, moderate for the others. Thus, the results have to be considered with caution.
Considering both efficacy (PASI 90 outcome) and acceptability (SAEs outcome), highly effective treatments also had more SAEs compared to the other treatments, and ustekinumab, infliximab, and certolizumab appeared to have the better trade-off between efficacy and acceptability, the study showed.