Clinical Trial Compares Psoriasis Drugs Ustekinumab, Enbrel

Armen Hareyan's picture

A clinical trial comparing psoriasis drugs Ustekinumab made by Johnson & Johnson and Enbrel sold by Wyeth and Amgen shows that Ustekinumab is much better than Enbrel, which currently covers 75% of psoriasis drug market.

A three-month long drug clinical trial is the first of its kind to compare a newly introduced psoriasis drug with blockbuster Enbrel. The trial involved 903 patients with moderate and severe forms of disease. Trial participants were divided into two groups, with the first group taking Enbrel injections two times a week, and with the second group taking 45 milligram or 90 milligram Ustekinumab injections at the first and fifth weeks.

Twelve weeks after the study begun the patients were checked for psoriasis symptom decline, which was the primary goal of the trial. Those taking high doses of Ustekinumab showed 74% improvement, those taking lower doses showed 68% improvement, while hose taking Enbrel showed only 57% improvement.


The secondary goal of the trial was the drug's ability to reduce psoriasis severity where the criteria of reduction was 90% or more. The secondary goal was successfully reached among 36% of those taking lower doses of Ustekinumab, 45% of high dose group patients, and 23% of those receiving Enbrel injections.

The trial also compared adverse side effects of both drugs and found that Ustekinumab caused less redness or irritation than Enbrel, and this is probably because it required far fewer injections than the blockbuster drug does.

This is a statistically significant difference showing that Ustekinumab gives better results than Enbrel in much lower doses and it is as safe as the bestselling drug.

Ustekinumab is developed based on a new mechanism of blocking two types of protein causing psoriasis inflammation - interleukin-12 and interleukin-23. This mechanism is also used in Abbott's ABT-874. Unlike Ustekinumab, Enbrel is a biotech drug based on a new mechanism of blocking a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) protein, which again causes inflammation. Later Johnson & Johnson is going to compare its Ustekinumab with other drugs like ABT-874, Humira, Remicade (again made by J&J).

Despite of the success in this trial, Ustekinumab still needs to show its priority in longer trials as well. A three month period is rather short for a disease like psoriasis, because this is a long term condition, which needs long lasting treatment.