Otezla: The First and Only Oral Treatment for Active Psoriatic Arthritis

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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Otezla has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of active psoriatic arthritis. It is the first treatment of its kind approved by the FDA. According to the manufacturer, Celgene, Otezla was anticipated to be available in March 2014, so look for it to be launched soon.

What is psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that may develop in those who have psoriasis. It is characterized by pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints just as with conventional arthritis. In 85% of patients, the diagnosis of psoriasis lesions characteristically comes before the signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.

How and when does the psoriatic arthritis usually develop?

Several factors play a role in the development of the arthritis such as your genetics, immune system, plus environmental factors. It is believed that 30% of psoriasis patients between the ages of 30 and 50 years old will go on to develop psoriatic arthritis. If you have been diagnosed with psoriasis, it is important to tell your dermatologist if you develop any aches or pains.

Are there other treatment options for psoriatic arthritis?

Yes. There are various medications available to treat the signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. The medications range from anti-inflammatory meds such as ibuprofen, to disease modifying agents like methotrexate, to injectable biologics like Enbrel or Humira.

It is important to talk to your doctor and find out which option may be right for you.

How is Otezla different than the other currently available treatment options?
Otezla works differently than the current treatments for psoriatic arthritis by helping to regulate inflammation, a key component of psoriatic arthritis. Without getting too technical, Otezla works on a different inflammation-mediated pathway than typical anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, and has proven results. In clinical trials, patients showed improvement in tender and swollen joints as well as increased physical functioning compared to placebo.

How should Otezla be taken, and what dosages is it available in?

When you start Otezla, it is typically titrated to the recommended dose of 30mg twice daily, and is available as 10 mg, 20 mg, and 30 mg tablets. Titration means that your dose will be slowly increased up to the recommended amount.

What is the titration schedule for Otezla?

To begin, you may be given a 5-day starter pack of Otezla to help increase (or titrate) your dose up from 10 mg to the recommended dose of 30 mg twice daily. During this 5-day titration your medication should be taken as follows:

What are the most common side effects of Otezla?

The most common side effects of Otezla include but are not limited to: diarrhea, nausea, and headache.

Can I go to my local pharmacy to pick this medication up?

NO. Otezla is considered a specialty medication and will most likely need to be mailed to you from a specialty pharmacy. Please see my article on Specialty Pharmacy for more information.

Does the manufacturer have any co-pay assistance programs?

Yes. The Otezla SupportPlus program offers support and co-pay assistance to those who qualify. For some, this may mean a $0 co-pay, or other offers from the manufacturer, Celgene. You can sign up for the program here.

Where can I find more information on Otezla?

More information on Otezla can be found in the patient brochure or manufacturer website. You can also find information, prices, and other discounts and assistance programs here.

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