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People with psoriasis will have new treatment option instead of Humira

Tremfya is now approved by the Food and Drug Administration for people with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. | Janssen Biotech

People with psoriasis will have a new treatment option for the itchy, sometimes painful condition, after the federal Food and Drug Administration approved a new psoriasis drug.

The FDA approved Tremfya for treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

Johnson & Johnson said that, in one patient study, about seven in 10 patients getting Tremfya had clear or nearly clear skin after 24 weeks of treatment.

That compares with about four in 10 patients receiving rival AbbVie’s Humira, which treats several immune disorders and is the world’s top-selling drug. AbbVie is based in North Chicago.

The drug, which has the chemical name guselkumab, will cost $9,684 per dose, or about $58,100 per year, without insurance. That’s comparable to Humira, which costs about $59,200 a year.

Tremfya, which is injected every eight weeks, can cause infections and other serious side effects. Because it suppresses part of the immune system, it can increase the risk of developing tuberculosis and some types of cancer.

More than 7.5 million Americans are estimated to have psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory condition in which overproduction of skin cells causes raised red lesions called plaques, along with frequent pain, itching and burning sensations. Tremfya was able to both clear up lesions and help relieve those symptoms.

Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, sells other immune disorder treatment such as Remicade and Stelara for conditions including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.