U.S. regulators approved a new psoriasis drug from Johnson & Johnson Thursday, giving people with the itchy and painful condition another treatment option.
Johnson & Johnson said that in one patient study, about seven in 10 patients getting the drug, Tremfya, had clear or nearly clear skin after 24 weeks of treatment. That compares with about four in 10 patients receiving rival AbbVie's Humira, which treats several immune disorders and is the world's top selling drug.
Tremfya, which is injected every eight weeks, can cause infections and other serious side effects. Because it suppresses part of the immune system, it can increase the risk of developing tuberculosis and some types of cancer.
The drug, which has the chemical name guselkumab, will cost $9,684 per dose, or about $58,100 per year, without insurance. That's comparable to Humira, which costs about $59,200 a year.
More than 7.5 million Americans are estimated to have psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory condition in which overproduction of skin cells causes raised red lesions called plaques, along with frequent pain, itching and burning sensations. Tremfya was able to both clear up lesions and help relieve those symptoms.
Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, sells other immune disorder treatment such as Remicade and Stelara for conditions including Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
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