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Combining etanercept with traditional agents in the treatment of psoriasis: a review of the clinical evidence


  • Conflict of interest
    PAF, CQ, JRS, CD and AJC have served as paid consultants to and received unrestricted educational support from Wyeth. PAF and CQ have served as paid speakers for Wyeth. PAF has received unrestricted research support from Wyeth. JRS has served as a paid consultant to and received unrestricted educational support from Novartis. SPH was employed by Wyeth and is now employed by Roche Products. KT is employed by Wyeth.

Correspondence: A/Prof P Foley. E-mail:


Psoriasis is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder manifesting primarily in skin and potentially in joints, frequently necessitating treatment with conventional systemic therapies, phototherapy or biological agents. Patients with moderate to severe disease suffer a diminished quality of life, experience significant comorbidities and have a higher mortality. Although traditional treatments are effective in the short-term, their use is often limited by concerns over long-term toxicity, including end-organ damage and risk of malignancy. Combination therapy is a commonly used approach and is often more effective than any single agent. Lower doses of two treatments in combination can also minimize potential side effects from a single agent at higher doses. Etanercept is a recombinant human tumour necrosis factor (TNF)α receptor (p75) protein fused with the Fc portion of IgG1 that binds to TNFα. This article reviews the evidence on the efficacy and safety of etanercept in combination with methotrexate, acitretin, narrowband UVB and cyclosporin. The largest body of evidence assesses the combination with methotrexate, although evidence is available for the other combinations. Data suggest that although highly effective as monotherapy, etanercept in combination with a conventional systemic agent can enhance efficacy and allow drug sparing. Potentially, the combination may also result in faster treatment responses and permit safe transitioning from one systemic agent to another. Evidence to date suggests that these benefits can be achieved without significant additional toxicity, although long-term data on the efficacy and safety of the combination in psoriatic populations is limited and further evaluation is warranted.