Conference Coverage

Systemic psoriasis treatments less often prescribed in elderly with psoriasis, despite comparable response rates



Biologics are underprescribed in the elderly, despite evidence that efficacy of biologics is comparable among older and younger patients over time, an analysis of German and Swiss registry data shows.

There was an “imbalance” in the types of medications prescribed for older and younger patients in the registry, with biologics used more frequently in younger patients, according to investigator Matthias Augustin, MD, director of the Institute For Health Services Research in Dermatology and Nursing in Hamburg, Germany.

However, the efficacy of systemic treatments, including nonbiologic therapies, was comparable between older and younger patients, other than a few differences in response rates early in treatment that disappeared with longer follow-up, Dr. Augustin said at the World Congress of Dermatology. Coupled with evidence from the medical literature, results of this registry data analysis suggest there are “very few reasons” to avoid use of systemic drugs in elderly patients.

“I think we should create awareness and discuss possible reasons that deter dermatologists from prescribing systemic antipsoriatics in elderly patients,” he said.

Concerns about safety and drug interactions in the elderly may be one barrier to prescribing systemic therapy in this patient population: More data on this issue are needed, since the elderly are taking more medications than younger patients and have more contraindications, Dr. Augustin said. “I think this is a job for all registries for the future.”

Older individuals have typically been excluded from psoriasis clinical trials, making it difficult to extrapolate existing safety and efficacy data to those patients, he pointed out.

Accordingly, Dr. Augustin and coinvestigators evaluated prospectively collected data for patients with moderate to severe psoriasis who were included in either the German Psoriasis registry (PsoBest) or the Swiss Dermatology Network for Targeted Therapies (SDNTT). They split the cohort into a control group of those younger than 65 years (about 4,600 individuals) and those 65 years or older (about 740 individuals).

A few systemic drugs were used more frequently in the elderly, including apremilast and methotrexate, while most other drugs, including biologics, were used more frequently in younger patients, Dr. Augustin and colleagues found in their analysis. There were a few differences between the elderly and controls related to weight, smoking, and other factors, but not so pronounced that they would explain differences in the use of the systemic therapy.

Response rates to systemic therapies were generally comparable between the elderly and controls, as measured by Psoriasis Area Severity Index (PASI) 75 responses, PASI scores of 3 or less, and Dermatology Life Quality Index scores of one or less, he added.

One exception was methotrexate, which was more effective in the elderly after 3 and 6 months of treatment, but that difference was no longer apparent after 12 months of treatment, he said. Likewise, cyclosporine showed a higher response rate in younger patients at 3 months, but not at 6 or 12 months.

Based on the findings, “overall, we observed comparable responses between the controls and the elderly,” Dr. Augustin concluded.

The PsoBest registry is sponsored by CVderm, DDG, and BVDD, and “has been established and is operated in close cooperation with the involved pharmaceutical companies whose statutory pharmacovigilance requirements are taken into account,” according to a statement on the PsoBest website. The Swiss registry is supported by Janssen, AbbVie, Pfizer, Celgene, Lilly, and Novartis. The investigators did not report any disclosures.

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