Objective To compare the clinical efficacy of methotrexate (MTX) vs. fumaric acid esters (FAE) in psoriasis treated under daily life conditions.
Methods Data were extracted from a registry (http://www.psoriasisregistry.at) of 272 adult patients with moderate-to-severe chronic plaque psoriasis treated primarily with MTX (n = 72) or FAE (n = 200) between 2004 and 2011. Data from all patients, including those who did not complete at least 3 months of monotherapy, were included in an intention-to-treat (ITT) worst-case analysis.
Results Thirty of 72 (41.7%) patients treated with MTX and 85 of 200 (42.5%) patients treated with FAE discontinued early, mainly due to side-effects or lack of response. Among patients who completed at least 3 months of treatment, the response to primary treatment with MTX vs. FAE did not differ significantly at any time point. In the ITT worst-case analysis at month 3, complete remission rate, PASI90, PASI75 and PASI50 rates were 6%, 7%, 24% and 39% in MTX-treated patients vs. 1%, 5%, 27% and 44% in FAE-treated patients. Overall mean PASI reduction score improved significantly in response to primary MTX and FAE treatment (by 10.6% and 12.6%, respectively) between 3 and 6 months (P = 0.0005; exact Wilcoxon test), but not between 6 and 12 months (P = 0.16). A subset of 32 patients who did not respond satisfactorily to primary treatment with FAE responded better to subsequent MTX therapy (P < 0.0001; paired Wilcoxon test).
Conclusions As shown by retrospective analysis, the primary efficacy of FAE was similar to that of MTX under daily life conditions.