March 4, 2015 7:23 am
Updated: March 4, 2015 8:12 am

Psoriasis drug gets stamp of approval from Health Canada


HALIFAX -Health Canada has given the green light to a drug tested and developed in Halifax that will be used to treat psoriasis patients.

Psoriasis is a skin condition that affects roughly one out of every 50 people; a small percentage of that group has such severe psoriasis that it requires strong treatment.

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The condition involves scaly, elevated and red skin that can be physically uncomfortable. Psoriasis can also be emotionally difficult to cope with; doctors say it can lead to issues with confidence and self-esteem. There are also concerns psoriasis may lead to systemic issues such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Currently ointments, ultraviolet therapy or oral treatments are used to offset the symptoms.

“Generally if you have psoriasis involving large areas of the body, over 10 per cent of the body, it’s very unlikely that creams alone, topical creams or ointments are going to work,” said Dr. Richard Langley, a professor of dermatology at Dalhousie University.

Cosentyx is an injectable, developed by researchers who were led by Langley, that targets the key protein causing the skin condition.

“I’m very excited for patients because patients that have psoriasis can be so profoundly affected, not just physically but mentally. To many of these patients, they’ve been unable to get clear before and for the first time, we have a medication that works to this degree, where approximately 90 per cent of patients are having a significant improvement in their skin,” Langley said.

Langley oversaw a clinical trial of the injectable last year. Researchers found that there was 50 per cent improvement in patients within three weeks.

The medication then went through a series of reviews by Health Canada, which gave the drug approval on Monday.

“The results were incredibly favourable. It means the medication will now be available shortly for prescription by dermatologists in Canada,” Langley said.

“Our primary focus in medicine is to help people and make them feel better. I’m quite excited that I’m able to do this and able to do it with a medication that looks to be very safe.”

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