Although the range of oral psoriasis therapies continues to expand, “topical therapy is still the cornerstone of the treatment of psoriasis,” said Linda Stein Gold, MD, in a presentation at Medscape Live’s annual Las Vegas Dermatology Seminar.

However, when using topical treatments, combination therapy is generally more effective than monotherapy for psoriasis, especially for plaque psoriasis, said Dr. Stein Gold, director of clinical research and division head of dermatology at the Henry Ford Health System, Detroit.

Psoriasis on woman's hand and forearm petekarici/Getty Images

Two combination products, calcipotriene/betamethasone (CAL/BDP) and tazarotene/halobetasol lotion, each offer a complimentary mechanism of action that minimizes side effects, with decreased irritation and less atrophy, she said. Calcipotriene/betamethasone (CAL/BDP) is available as a cream or foam, Dr. Stein Gold noted. The cream is engineered for rapid onset, as well as enhanced penetration, she said. CAL/BDP foam also is designed for enhanced penetration, and has been shown to have long-term maintenance efficacy, she said.

The currently available CAL/BDP cream is made using a patented technology known as “PAD,” in which the internal oil of the cream vehicle is stabilized by encapsulation in “a robust aqueous film,” Dr. Stein Gold said, noting that the greater solubility enhances skin penetration. The creation of “a robust oil droplet” addresses the problems associated with the surfactants present in many cream vehicles, namely irritation and impedance of skin penetration of the cream, she said.

In an 8-week study published in 2021, researchers compared CAL/BDP cream with PAD technology to CAL/BDP topical suspension in adults with mild to moderate psoriasis.

Patients randomized to treatment with CAL/BDP cream were significantly more likely to achieve the primary endpoint of Physician Global Assessment (PGA) treatment success than those randomized to the topical solution or vehicle (37.4%, 22.8%, and 3.7%, respectively).

Get proactive to maintain results

With topical psoriasis treatment, a proactive strategy helps maintain results over time, Dr. Stein Gold said. As an example, she cited a study published in 2021. In that study, known as PSO-LONG, which evaluated topical CAL/BDP foam, proactive management with the CAL/BDP foam formulation, “reduced the risk of experiencing relapse by 43%,” compared with reactive management (treatment with the vehicle foam), she said. Patients in the proactive-management group experienced an average of 41 more days in remission, compared with those in the reactive management group over a 1-year period.

Dr. Stein Gold also highlighted the value of tazarotene/halobetasol lotion for psoriasis, which she described as having synergistic efficacy,

She shared data presented at the 2021 Maui Dermatology meeting showing treatment success by 8 weeks with halobetasol/tazarotene with significantly reduced mean scores on measures of itching, dryness, and burning/stinging, compared with those on vehicle.

What’s new and approved

Joining the current topical treatment options for psoriasis is tapinarof, a small molecule that works by down-regulating Th17 cytokines, said Dr. Stein Gold. Tapinarof is Food and Drug Administration approved for treating psoriasis and is being studied in clinical trials for atopic dermatitis, she noted.

Dr. Stein Gold reviewed data from the PSOARING program published in the New England Journal of Medicine that served as a foundation for the FDA approval of tapinarof 1% cream. In the PSOARING 1 and 2 studies, patients with PSORIASIS showed significant improvement compared with vehicle over 12 weeks for the primary endpoint of Physicians’ Global Assessment scores of 0 or 1 (clear or almost clear). In the two studies, 60.7% and 56.9% of patients randomized to tapinarof met the patient-reported outcome of a minimum 4-point improvement in peak pruritus on the numerical rating scale (NRS) from baseline vs. 43.2% and 29.7% of placebo patients in the two studies, respectively.

In PSOARING 1 and 2, folliculitis (mostly mild or moderate), contact dermatitis, headache, pruritus, and dermatitis were the most common treatment-emergent adverse events, occurring in 1% or more of patients. Adverse event profiles for tapinarof are similar to those seen in previous studies, and a long-term extension showed a consistent safety profile, Dr. Stein Gold said.

Another recently approved topical treatment for psoriasis, a cream formulation of roflumilast, a phosphodiesterase (PDE)-4 inhibitor, has shown efficacy for treating plaque psoriasis, she said.

Patients with psoriasis in the DERMIS 1 and DERMIS 2 phase 3 studies randomized to 0.3% roflumilast cream showed significant improvement compared with those randomized to vehicle in terms of Investigator Global Assessment scores of clear or almost clear with an improvement of at least 2 grades from baseline.

Roflumilast foam also has shown success in improving scalp and body psoriasis, but this vehicle and indication has not yet been approved, Dr. Stein Gold said.

Dr. Stein Gold disclosed serving as a consultant or adviser for companies including AbbVie, Amgen, Arcutis, Bristol Myers Squibb, Dermavant, EPI Health, Galderma, Janssen, Incyte, Ortho Dermatologics, Pfizer, Regeneron, Sanofi; UCB, and serving as a speaker or member of speakers’ bureau for Amgen, AbbVie, Incyte, Pfizer, Regeneron, Sanofi, and Sun Research. She also disclosed receiving funding from AbbVie Amgen, Arcutis, Dermata, Dermavant, Galderma, Incyte, Ortho Dermatologics, Pfizer, and UCB.

MedscapeLive and this news organization are owned by the same parent company.