Psoriasis Drug Tames Immune Cells

Controls itchy, scaly skin

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TUESDAY, Oct. 28, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A new drug to combat psoriasis has won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Raptiva (efalizumab) is intended for patients at least 18 years old who have moderate-to-severe cases of the chronic condition, with symptoms including itchy, scaly patches on the skin. Scientists think it's caused by overactive immune system cells known as memory effector T cells, which cause portions of the skin to become inflamed.

The medication is meant to be self-administered with a once-weekly injection, according to Raptiva's manufacturers, Genentech Inc. and Xoma Ltd. The drug, clinically tested on more than 2,700 volunteers, caused side effects including headache, chills, nausea, pain and flu-like symptoms.

The National Institutes of Health says psoriasis affects up to 2.6 percent of the United States population, or 7.5 million people.

Here is the corporate press release announcing the approval. For more information about psoriasis, visit the National Library of Medicine.

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