By: Vania Galarraga, MPH, Engagement ManagerSkin diseases constitute one of the leading causes of health burden worldwide, measured as disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). Among skin diseases, psoriasis (PsO) carries the third-largest disability weight, which translates into health loss and poor quality of life (QoL)1. Globally, approximately 1-8% of the population suffers from PsO2, 3. Among PsO patients, the prevalence of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is estimated to be between 6% and 41%3.

Anti-TNFs have historically been the biologic of choice to treat PsO and  PsA; however, they were not prescribed in many instances, even if the patient was eligible, due to safety concerns. For some time now, several companies have been challenging the anti-TNFs’ leadership in this space. Newer agents have shown improved efficacy in comparison to the anti-TNFs and provide complete or near-complete skin clearance to patients with even severe disease. As newer agents enter the market, patient segmentation will become ever more complex, with multiple options available to treat each indication and several mechanisms of action from which to choose.

To succeed in the PsO and PsA market, biopharmaceutical companies should consider the following questions:

How Are Newer Biologics Changing the Market Dynamics?

  • PASI 90 and PASI 100 have become increasingly relevant by showing that patients who achieved PASI 90 with newer agents could have better QoL than those who achieved PASI 754
  • Several head-to-head trials now aim to measure PASI 90 (at Weeks 16 and 52) as the primary outcome; this is a shift from the historical trend of measuring PASI 75 as the primary endpoint5, 6, 7
  • Companies are using the social stigma around PsO lesions to emphasize that the treatment goal should be complete or near-complete skin clearance
  • Recent clinical trial trends indicate that several companies are seeking label extensions in subsets of the PsO patient population, such as those with scalp8 or genital9 involvement
  • Anti-IL-23s offer a more convenient dosing regimen (e.g., Q12W10 or Q16W in super-responders11) when compared to anti-TNFs. Head-to-head superiority data of anti-IL-17s and anti-IL-23s against anti-TNFs have been positively received
  • Although dermatologists have historically expressed concerns regarding the potential safety implications associated with targeted inhibition of cytokine pathways, a recent publication in JAMA Dermatology12 showed no difference in increased risk of cardiovascular comorbidities between Janssen’s Stelara (ustekinumab) and anti-TNFs

What Roles Do Convenience and Safety Play in the Treatment Paradigm?

  • Oral agents such as Celgene’s Otezla (apremilast) provide an attractive option for patients with moderate PsO who might prefer the convenience of an oral therapy before trying an injectable
  • In the case of active PsA, the launch of JAK inhibitors, led by Pfizer’s Xeljanz (tofacitinib), has intensified competition. As next-generation JAK inhibitors are approved and their share of voice increases, there could be a considerable treatment paradigm shift that affects prescribing practice and treatment sequencing in PsA and, eventually, PsO. Although there have been some safety concerns around the higher doses, there seems to be growing familiarity and comfort around the safety profile of JAK inhibitors. An effective oral drug with acceptable safety could disrupt the fast-changing marketplace
  • Tyk2 inhibitors are also expected to provide an additional oral option. Phase II results of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s BMS-986165 showed the ability of this class to achieve PASI 90 and PASI 10013

What Impact Will Biosimilars Have on the PsO and PsA Market?

  • Anti-TNFs are expected to face intense competition from innovator products and anti-TNF biosimilars, particularly in Europe14. In the US, anti-TNF biosimilar competition is not expected to intensify until 2023
  • Biosimilars will provide the historically proven safety and efficacy of the anti-TNF class while being more cost-effective, leading to increased access to biologics for patients with severe disease
  • As a result of competition, developers of reference anti-TNFs are focused on expanding access to their products by increasing the number of approved indications, enhancing their patient support programs and providing additional discounts

Table 1: Key Considerations for a Successful Drug Launch  

Patient Segmentation Will Be Key in the Evolving PsO and PsA Market

Given the breadth of options available to treat PsO and PsA, HCPs are likely to tailor therapy to cater to each patient’s needs. Newer agents (anti-IL-17s and anti-IL-23s) have raised patient and prescriber expectations in PsO due to their ability to achieve complete or near-complete skin clearance. Anti-TNF biosimilars are expected to retain some of their market share, as they are likely to be a more economical option than the novel biologics. JAK inhibitors and other novel oral therapies could lead to a significant shift in the treatment paradigm in a market segment traditionally dominated by injectable biologics. Given the complexity of the market dynamics, understanding the role of patient segmentation is going to be critical for success in the PsO and PsA marketplace.


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