Use of biologicals in dermatology – following the agreed path or going off-piste? A brief report

Published in: Volume 10 / Year 2021 / Issue 3
Category: Pilot Study
Visits: 141 total, 2 today
Keywords: biologicals, biosimilars, dermatology, psoriasis

Author byline as per print journal:
Michael Wilcock, MPhil; Andrew Pothecary, MSc

Introduction: Biological medicines are used to treat a range of conditions according to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) technology appraisals (TA). The annual drug treatment cost per patient per year varies (depending on various factors, including newer or older biological, and availability of a biosimilar. Our biologicals pathway for dermatology (moderate or severe psoriasis) listed less expensive older biologicals (including biosimilars) early on in the treatment choices and more recently approved (and generally more expensive) choices lower down the pathway.
Objective: We aimed to identify which biologicals or selective immunosuppressants were used first line in adult patients with moderate or severe posriais, and ascertain if the reasons for use of treatments other than adalimumab were in accordance with the locally agreed pathway.
Method: Medical records were reviewed for a sample of patients prescribed biologicals during late 2019 and early 2020. We identified patients who had commenced any treatment. Contact was made with lead dermatology nurses if needed.
Results: There were 33 patients commenced on a biological – 17 had newly started biological therapy and 16 had switched from a prior biological therapy to a new therapy. Of the 17 new patients, two commenced apremilast (biological contraindicated), 10 commenced adalimumab, and five commenced other biologicals. Of these five who commenced other biologicals, two were on guselkumab, two on ustekinumab, and one on certolizumab. In all five instances there was a valid reason for not using adalimumab as first choice though this was not always explicit in the multidisciplinary team (MDT) documentation.
Discussion: Though the number of psoriasis patients (17) newly starting a biological medicine was relatively small, it was reassuring that for five of these who commenced a subcutaneous biological other than adalimumab, there was a valid reason for this choice, though not always explicit in the MDT letter, which Dermatology will ensure is clear for future decisions. Hence going ‘off-piste’ was deemed justified.
Conclusions: This very small-scale study found that the local guideline was in the main followed with patients commencing treatments other that biosimilar adalimumab for valid reasons.

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This manuscript has been accepted for publication and undergone full peer review but has not been through the copyediting, typesetting, pagination and proofreading process, which may lead to differences between this version and the Version of Record.

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