Treatment of psoriasis has been profoundly impacted by the advent of biologic therapies, but “topical therapy is not dead,” Linda Stein Gold, MD, said at the annual Coastal Dermatology Symposium.

Dr. Linda Stein Gold of Henry Ford Hospital, detroit Jim Kling/MDedge News

Dr. Linda Stein Gold

“We have to remember when we think back to our practice, how many topical prescriptions do we write, compared to preventive prescriptions? Probably most are topical,” said Dr. Stein Gold, director of dermatology clinical research at the Henry Ford Hospital Center, Detroit.

Topical agents have a place when a patient is doing well on treatment with a biologic but is not responding completely, she noted. One open-label, single-arm study looked at adjunctive calcipotriene 0.005%/betamethasone dipropionate 0.064% (Enstilar) foam, applied once daily for 4 week, then twice a week on consecutive days for 12 weeks in 25 patients with psoriasis who had a mean body surface area (BSA) of less than 5% but significant remaining disease despite treatment with biologics.

At week 4, 76% achieved a BSA of 1% or less and Physician’s Global Assessment score of 1 or less at week 4, as did 68% at week 16. This was compared with 12% and 4%, respectively (J Drugs Dermatol. 2018 Aug 1;17[8]:845-50). “They found that a good potent topical on top of a biologic does really well. That can really kick up the last part of the efficacy to get the patients almost to clear,” she observed.

At the meeting, jointly presented by the University of Louisville and Global Academy for Medical Education, Dr. Stein Gold also discussed tazarotene, a topical retinoid approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating psoriasis and is available as a 0.1% and 0.05% cream and gel. About 10%-30% of patients experience side effects with tazarotene, such as pruritus, stinging, and burning. Topical corticosteroids can help, which prompted development of a combined product, she noted.

She referred to a phase 2 study of patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, which compared the fixed combination lotion formulation of tazarotene plus halobetasol propionate to the two components alone. The investigators found almost a 9% rate of treatment success with tazarotene alone, versus about 23% with halobetasol propionate alone and about 43% with the combined product. The combined individual effect of the two drugs was about 32%, so the 43% efficacy of the combined product had an absolute synergistic effect of about 11%, Dr. Stein Gold pointed out.

Two phase 3 trials of adults with moderate to severe psoriasis supported the phase 2 results of the combined lotion formulation (halobetasol 0.01% with tazarotene 0.045%), said Dr. Stein Gold, the first author (J Am Acad Dermatol. 2018 Aug;79[2]:287-93). Treatment success was defined as at least a 2-grade Investigator’s Global Assessment score and improvement from baseline and a score of “clear” or “almost clear.” In one of the studies, 36% of those on the combination versus 7% of those on the vehicle met this endpoint at week 8, as did 45% versus 13%, respectively, in the second study (P less than .001 for both studies).

Patients also had less itching, drying, and stinging than typically seen with tazarotene alone, Dr. Stein Gold said. In the studies, contact dermatitis was the most common side effect associated with treatment, reported in 6.3%

Dr. Stein Gold has received research support from Galderma, Leo, Novan, Valeant, Dermira, Novartis, Celgene, Allergan, and Foamix. She has been a consultant for Sol-gel, Galderma, Leo, Novan, Valeant, Dermira, Novartis, Celgene, Allergan, Foamix, Promis, Anacor, and Medimetriks. She has been on the speakers bureau of Galderma, Leo, Valeant, Novartis, Celgene, and Allergan. She has been a member of scientific advisory boards for Galderma, Leo, Novan, Valeant, Dermira, Novartis, Celgene, Allergan, Foamix, and Promius.

This publication and Global Academy for Medical Education are owned by the same parent company.