Will Psoriasis Patients Embrace Proactive Topical Therapy?

Bruce Jancin

March 29, 2021

Long-term proactive topical management of plaque psoriasis with twice-weekly calcipotriene/betamethasone dipropionate foam has been shown in a high-quality randomized trial to be more effective than conventional reactive management – but will patients go for it?

Dr Bruce Strober

Bruce E. Strober, MD, PhD, has his doubts, and he shared them with Linda Stein Gold, MD, after she presented updated results from the 52-week PSO-LONG trial at Innovations in Dermatology: Virtual Spring Conference 2021.

In order for the proactive management approach tested in this study to be successful, patients must apply the topical agent as maintenance therapy to cleared areas where they previously had psoriasis. And while they did so in this study with an assist in the form of monthly office visits and nudging from investigators, in real-world clinical practice that's unlikely to happen, according to Strober, of Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

"It makes sense to do what's being done in this study, there's no doubt, but I'm concerned about adherence and whether patients are really going to do it," he said.

"Adherence is going to be everything here, and you know patients don't like to apply topicals to their body. Once they're clear they're just going to walk away from the topical," Strober predicted.

Stein Gold countered: "When a study goes on for a full year, it starts to reflect real life."

Moreover, the PSO-LONG trial provides the first high-quality evidence physicians can share with patients demonstrating that proactive management pays off in terms of fewer relapses and more time in remission over the long haul, added Stein Gold, director of dermatology clinical research at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

PSO-LONG was a double-blind, international, phase 3 study including 545 adults with plaque psoriasis who had clear or almost-clear skin after 4 weeks of once-daily calcipotriene 0.005%/betamethasone dipropionate 0.064% (Cal/BD) foam (Enstilar), and were then randomized to twice-weekly proactive management or to a reactive approach involving application of vehicle on the same twice-weekly schedule. Relapses resulted in rescue therapy with 4 weeks of once-daily Cal/BD foam.

The primary endpoint was the median time to first relapse: 56 days with the proactive approach, a significant improvement over the 30 days with the reactive approach. Over the course of 52 weeks, the proactive group spent an additional 41 days in remission, compared with the reactive group. Patients randomized to twice-weekly Cal/BD foam averaged 3.1 relapses per year, compared with 4.8 with reactive management. The side-effect profiles in the two study arms were similar.

Mean Physician Global Assessment scores and Psoriasis Area and Activity Index scores for the proactive group clearly separated from the reactive group by week 4, with those differences maintained throughout the year. The area under the curve for distribution for the Physician Global Assessment score was 15% lower in the proactive group, and 20% lower for the modified PASI score.

"These results suggest that proactive management – a concept that's been used for atopic dermatitis – could be applied to patients with psoriasis to prolong remission," Stein Gold concluded at the conference, sponsored by MedscapeLIVE! and the producers of the Hawaii Dermatology Seminar and Caribbean Dermatology Symposium.

Asked how confident she is that patients in the real world truly will do this, Stein Gold replied: "You know, I don't know. We hope so. Now we can tell them we actually have some data that supports treating the cleared areas. And it's only twice a week, separated on Mondays and Thursdays."

"I take a much more reactive approach," Strober said. "I advise patients to get back in there with their topical steroid as soon as they see any signs of recurrence.

He added that he's eager to see if a proactive management approach such as the one that was successful in PSO-LONG is also beneficial using some of the promising topical agents with nonsteroidal mechanisms of action, which are advancing through the developmental pipeline.

Late in 2020, the Food and Drug Administration approved an expanded indication for Cal/BD foam, which includes the PSO-LONG data on the efficacy and safety of long-term twice-weekly therapy in adults in product labeling. The combination spray/foam was previously approved by the FDA as once-daily therapy in psoriasis patients aged 12 years and older, but only for up to 4 weeks because of safety concerns regarding longer use of the potent topical steroid as daily therapy.

The PSO-LONG trial was funded by LEO Pharma. Stein Gold reported serving as a paid investigator and/or consultant to LEO and numerous other pharmaceutical companies. Strober, reported serving as a consultant to more than two dozen pharmaceutical companies. MedscapeLIVE! and this news organization are owned by the same parent company.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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