Oral or injected medications for psoriasis can be burdensome for patients, making them inclined to use alternative therapies such as phototherapy and other nondrug therapies, according to a public meeting hosted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to hear patient perspectives on psoriasis. Approximately 70 psoriasis patients or patient representatives attended the meeting in person and others attended through a live webcast.
More than half of participants indicated that they have used phototherapy. Both positive and negative experiences were reported. One participant reported that a home UVB 3-panel light box "dramatically changed [his/her] life." Other participants indicated phototherapy was less successful for them. Participants also indicated fears about skin cancer.
However, several participants reported that phototherapy was more effective when used in combination with other medical therapies. Similarly, most participants indicated using 1 or more nondrug therapies to manage their psoriatic symptoms. Approximately one-third used over-the-counter products, such as coal tar, salicylic acid, and Epsom salt. Slightly more than one-fourth indicated the importance of complementary or alternative therapy, including exercise and meditation, to manage their psoriasis symptoms. Diet modifications, such as eliminating alcohol, sugar, processed foods, drugs, gluten, and tobacco, also were reported as successful.
Psoriasis patients emphasized that an effective multimodal approach including drug, phototherapy, and nondrug therapies usually is done through trial and error based on each patient's individual needs. Dermatologists would benefit from knowing that nearly all participants in this public meeting indicated they value the benefits of nondrug therapies, and combination therapies using drug and nondrug therapies should be discussed with patients.
The psoriasis public meeting in March 2016 was the FDA's 18th patient-focused drug development meeting. The FDA sought this information to have a greater understanding of the burden of psoriasis on patients and the treatments currently used to treat psoriasis and its symptoms. This information will help guide the FDA as they consider future drug approvals.