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Psoriasis and Biologic Response Modifiers

Written by ColleenO.

Biologic response modifiers are prescribed when conventional medications have failed. They are taken as an IV infusion or as an injection.

Common names include:

  • Etanercept (Enbrel)
  • Infliximab (Remicade)
  • Alefacept (Amevive)
  • Ustekinumab (Stelara)
  • Adalimumab (Humira)

Effect of Biologic Response Modifiers on Psoriasis

Biologic response modifiers treat psoriasis by blocking the action of TNF, a pro-inflammatory cytokine implicated in the development of psoriasis, or by inhibiting inflammatory cell activation in the skin.

Read more details about Biologic Response Modifiers.

All patients receiving biologic response modifiers must first undergo a skin test for tuberculosis, a chest x-ray, a complete blood count, as well as blood tests for liver and kidney function. Certain blood tests will continue to be monitored throughout the course of treatment.

Possible side effects include:

  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Muscular pain or tenderness
  • Injection site reactions

Serious complications may include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Serious infections
  • Blood-related cancers
  • Low platelets
  • Severe, immune-mediated anemia
  • Arthritis events
  • Psoriasis worsening
  • Lupus-like reactions
  • Multiple sclerosis-like reactions
  • Increased risk for children and teens to develop Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other types of cancer


  • Known chronic infections
  • Allergy to any of the medication components
  • Low white blood cell counts

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