SKYRIZI™ - A new treatment for psoriasis that has been recently approved is now being available to treat Israeli psoriasis patients and it has demonstrated therapeutic success, even in severe cases. The treatment has been studied for several years in extensive clinical trials, and currently there are already thousands of patients around the world that are reporting significant improvement in quality of life and in coping with the disease.
Psoriasis is a chronic, multi-systemic skin disease that affects additional body systems and is linked to a variety of symptoms, some of which can significantly affect the patients' health. The disease and its accompanying inflammatory process are expressed externally in lesions that appear on the skin in various body parts. This effects especially patients with moderate to severe cases, and it is accompanied by pain and constant itching when it involves such sensitive areas as the face, hands or genitals. Patients suffering from advanced psoriasis tend to be depressed and overweight and to suffer from reduced self-confidence and from social withdrawal. They also have an increased risk of getting more serious diseases such as diabetes, Crohn's disease, hypertension, heart disease, stroke and more. The disease has several forms, the most prevalent in both adults and children being plaque psoriasis where the lesions' distribution is seen on the skin as red layers covered with rough white scales.
It is a common disease affecting 2-3% of the population regardless of age and gender, with about 125 million people around the world having to deal with it. According to estimations, there are some 260,000 psoriasis sufferers in Israel, out of which about 30,000 have a moderate to severe form.
A better understanding of the mechanism behind the diseases has led in recent years to the development of more specific treatments that target the causes of the disease and can quickly make its symptoms disappear. Experts in Israel and abroad agree that these new treatments have been found to be very safe and effective. Their effectiveness lasts for long periods, and they can simplify and streamline treatment and bring about results that could not be formerly achieved. Prof. Yuval Ramot, an expert dermatologist and department head in Hadassah Ein-Karem Medical Center, explains that "the new generation of biological treatments has brought about a revolution in the ability to 'clear' patients of the disease. In fact, thanks to these treatments it is possible today to obtain clear or nearly clear skin in most patients. In the past, such is now attainable".
One of these new treatments is SKYRIZI™ (generically known as Risankizumab), a treatment based on a mechanism blocking "interleukin 23" (IL-23), which is a protein discovered to be a "major player" in the disease's inflammatory process. It is administered by self-injection every three months (after two doses given at the beginning of the treatment course with one month in between).
The treatment, a part of a collaboration between Boehringer Ingelheim and AbbVie, has been studied in four extensive international clinical trials with thousands of subjects, including patients with a very advanced form of the disease. The results of the trials and the experience accumulated to date show that the new treatment is more effective and that its effects last longer. The treatment has been successful in bringing about considerable improvement in the patients' health as well as their symptoms (90/100% improvement according to the international PASI index), which means the skin is nearly clear or fully cleared of symptoms. In addition, many patients who have participated in the studies have reported that psoriasis no longer affected their quality of life.
These treatment results have recently been confirmed locally when Israeli patients began to be administered the medication. The results even surprised some of the doctors. "When I came across the information about studies of the new treatment, I admit that alongside the hope I was also skeptical," says an expert dermatologist from Northern Israel. This physician administered the treatment to one of his patients, a 33-year-old young man, working in the high-tech industry who had suffered from severe psoriasis for many years. "The disease caused the patient great anguish. In addition to its symptoms, it also affected his self-confidence and was very detrimental to his daily performance. After years of treatments – both topical with ointments and systemic – the patient was now completely desperate. I offered him the new treatment but without giving him much hope," the physician says. "Both of us were pleasantly surprised to discover considerable improvement after the very first treatment. When he visited the clinic and I saw the improvement I was completely shocked. I had not expected such significant improvement and definitely not in such a short period. I believe that continuing the treatments will bring about completely clear skin for him. For this patient this is a dream come true and he never believed this would ever happen".
"This medication changed my life," agrees A. the patient. "I have suffered from psoriasis for over a decade, and the disease has really affected my life. Those who don't suffer from psoriasis cannot understand what patients go through in their daily lives. For years I have tried many medications with minimal results and for limited periods. And with every treatment I have had to concurrently continue treating it topically with an ointment that only has an effect that lasts one or two days. It wasn't very effective for me to constantly apply ointments. A new treatment that I tried about a year ago made the condition even worse, and additional parts of my body were now covered with spots. When the doctor suggested I tried the new treatment, SKYRIZI, I thought there would be nothing to lose. That the worst case scenario was that my condition would stay the same", says A.
"After the first treatment I already felt improvement. For the first time since I've had the disease, it seemed to stop and there was no worsening. For me these were already wonderful news, as through the years the trend had been constant worsening. After another month I could see significant change, and many parts of the body were cleared of the disease. Only small, insignificant spots remained. Now 95% of the body is already clear. For me it’s a new experience, I no longer feel the need to hide parts of my body. It's an amazing feeling of freedom".
The treatment was approved by the American FDA and the European EMA in 2019 and was also recently approved in Israel and is now available to patients through all HMO's.