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Published on 16 January 2009

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A step forward in managing severe psoriasis in children

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Wyeth Pharmaceuticals has today announced that Enbrel (etanercept) is approved for the treatment of chronic severe plaque psoriasis in children aged 8 years and above, making it the only biologic treatment approved for use in children.

Etanercept has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of psoriasis in these children. As many of the therapies for severe psoriasis are not licensed for children or
adolescents, this approval is a step forward in the treatment of paediatric patients with this highly impactful, debilitating disease.

Psoriasis is one of the most debilitating skin conditions and its impact on children’s lives can be similar to that of asthma and epilepsy. It often leads to children being alienated, bullied, lacking in self-confidence and having poor self-esteem. This is particularly apparent as children get older and become conscious of their appearance.

It can also have a long term negative psychological effect extending into adulthood. Despite this significant psychological burden, access to clinical psychology services for children and adults with this condition is still limited in the UK.

“Managing paediatric psoriasis is a great clinical challenge as many therapies are not licensed for children or adolescents or have limited use due to their low tolerability and adverse reactions,” said Dr Ruth Murphy, consultant dermatologist, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham.

“Today’s announcement is good news not only for children affected by severe psoriasis, but also for their parents and carers. It will give them confidence that their children are receiving an effective treatment which is well tolerated and has been specifically investigated in children.”

Children and adolescents who have been treated with etanercept experienced significant improvements in their signs and symptoms of psoriasis, which had a positive impact on their
quality of life.

According to physician’s assessment, over half the children taking etanercept were clear or almost clear of visible symptoms ie redness, thickness and scaliness of the lesions caused by plaque psoriasis.

“The psychological impact of psoriasis should not be underestimated. Children with psoriasis may find it has a profound impact on their day to day lives,” said Gladys Edwards, chief executive of The Psoriasis Association.

“Having psoriasis may prevent them not only going to the pool or to the beach but may influence their career and personal choices. It is therefore crucial that the symptoms of psoriasis are effectively managed from childhood to adulthood.”

Enbrel has been used to treat adults with moderate to severe psoriasis since receiving its licence in 2004. It has an established efficacy profile and is generally well-tolerated.

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