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New drug licensed for psoriatic arthritis

A new drug has been launched for the treatment of active psoriatic arthritis in adults.

Certolizumab pegol (Cimzia) has been licensed, in combination with methotrexate, when patient response to previous disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs has been inadequate.

Psoriatic arthritis is estimated to affect up to 156,000 people in England and Wales and, if left untreated, can lead to significant joint damage and disability over time.

Symptoms include inflammation in the joints and tendons, stiffness in the back or neck and swelling of fingers or toes.

“Psoriatic arthritis is a particularly nasty condition”

Jo Cumming

Jo Cumming, head of information and helplines at Arthritis Care, said, “We know that people often live with the terrible symptoms of psoriasis for up to 10 years before the joint pain really takes a hold.

“Psoriatic arthritis is a particularly nasty condition as it not only affects the joints but also many visible parts of the skin such as the scalp, elbows and knees. Many people suffer emotional distress and poorer quality of life due to their psoriatic arthritis.”

Certolizumab pegol is given to patients as an injection and following training patients may self-inject using a pre-filled syringe.

The initial three starting doses are 400mg – given as two subcutaneous injections of 200mg each – every two weeks. After week four the recommended maintenance dose is 200mg every two weeks.

Since 2009 certolizumab pegol has been approved in the EU in combination with methotrexate for the treatment of moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis in adults inadequately responsive to disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.

In October 2013 it was also approved for the treatment of severe active axial spondyloarthritis in adults.

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