Humira, Remicade, Linked To Serious Infection Risks in Psoriasis Patients: Study

The side effects of Humira and Remicade, two popular rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis drugs, may increase the risk of serious infections when used by certain patients, according to the findings of a new study.

In a report published this month in the medical journal JAMA Dermatology, French researchers warn that new users of Humira with psoriasis appear to face a 22% increased risk of serious infections, while Remicade users with psoriasis face a 79% increased infection risk, a study by French researchers found.

Humira and Remicade belong to a class of drugs known as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers.

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Humira (adalimumab) was approved by the FDA in 2003 for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. It later gained approval for treatment of psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, moderate to severe chronic psoriasis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which was previously called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The drug pulled in sales of $6.5 billion in 2010.

Remicade was introduced in 1998, and is approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, plaque psoriasis,, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and ankylosing spondylitis.

In this latest study, researchers conducted a nationwide cohort study in France using data from the French National Health Data System, which has date on about 99% of that country’s population. They looked for data on all adults with psoriasis who received at least two prescriptions of a topical vitamin D derivative within a two year period between January 1, 2008 and May 31, 2019.

According to the findings, more than 44,000 new users of biologic treatments were identified in the study. According to the findings, the overall rate of serious infection was 25 per 1,000 person years. While a third TNF blocker, Enbrel, showed no association with an increased risk of serious infections, new Humira users were linked to a 22% increased risk of serious infections, and new Remicade users faced a 79% increased risk.

Gastrointestinal infections accounted for 38.9% of serious infections regardless of medication and were the most frequently reported. The simultaneous use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like Advil and Motrin, or systemic corticosteroids, increased the infection risks.

“These results could help physicians choose a biologic for patients with psoriasis who are at risk of serious infections,” the researchers concluded.

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