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Psoriasis medications' link to heart problems not clear: study

August 23, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Psoriasis can be treated with powerful new biological therapies. But a new study says the risks of those medications are unclear.
Psoriasis can be treated with powerful new biological therapies. But a… (Tyrone Turner / For The Times )

Psoriasis medications, such as Enbrel and Remicade, are often effective but have been linked with reports of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. An analysis published Tuesday suggests that the medications do not raise the risk of cardiovascular side effects. But the authors of the study cautioned that more research is needed

Researchers at Baylor Research Institute in Dallas, examined data from 22 studies to look at side effects related to treatment of chronic plaque psoriasis with biological therapies called anti-IL-12/23 agents.

The study showed no significant increase in cardiovascular side effects among people treated with the medications compared to those taking a placebo. However, the authors said their access to in-depth data was limited by the study sponsors. In addition, the placebo-controlled arms of the studies were not large enough to detect a change in cardiovascular risk.

Earlier this year, Abbott Laboratories withdrew its new drug application on the product briakinumab in order to investigate reports of increased cardiovascular risks.

The authors concluded: "Until more definitive data become available, we believe that dermatologists should exercise heightened vigilance for cardiovascular risk factors when initiating anti-IL-12/23 agents in psoriasis patients."

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

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