Research Activities January 2013, No. 389

New review evaluates treatment options for plaque psoriasis

A new review of treatment options for chronic plaque psoriasis finds there is not enough evidence to compare the effectiveness of different types of therapies, including biologic agents (genetically engineered drugs that target specific steps in the development of psoriasis), nonbiologic agents (synthetic drugs), and phototherapy (exposure to daylight or to specific wavelengths of light). When comparing health measures such as quality of life, spread and severity of the disease, and physician and patient assessments of disease severity, the review shows some evidence that favors treatment with biologic agents versus nonbiologic agents.

However, the strength of evidence is low. Additional clinical trials are required to compare the effectiveness and tolerability of these three types of treatments and to determine which types of patients may respond best to specific treatments. Plaque psoriasis is defined as a common skin condition that causes skin redness and irritation and is often associated with thick, red skin that has flaky, silver-white patches, known as scales. Psoriasis currently affects more than 3 percent of the U.S. population and costs the health care system more than $11 billion every year, so new information on treatment options is important for providers and patients alike.

These findings are available in the research review Biologic and Nonbiologic Systemic Agents and Phototherapy for Treatment of Chronic Plaque Psoriasis. You can view this review and other reports from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Effective Health Care Program at

Page last reviewed January 2013
Page originally created January 2013
Internet Citation: New review evaluates treatment options for plaque psoriasis. Content last reviewed January 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.