A Tricky Time

PsoriasisPsoriasis comes in several forms, with plaque psoriasis being the most common. Earlier this year, a new medication – Taltz® (ixekizumab) – gained FDA approval as another option for treating moderate-to-severe cases of plaque psoriasis, in which thick, red areas on the skin become flaky with silver-white scales.

Taltz, an injection medication, eases the inflammation underlying this disease. An antibody in Taltz binds with the protein interleukin-17A which otherwise would contribute to inflammation in the skin. The FDA approval came after several clinical trials (based on a treatment group of 3,866 plaque psoriasis patients) showed significant benefits from Taltz.

Now, follow-up data from those previous trials of Taltz for plaque psoriasis treatment has been published, along with new evidence from another data set. Of greatest interest from this study is the long-term results from patients on Taltz for 60 weeks, showing that the medication remained effective during this extended time.

New treatment options for psoriasis are welcome, indeed, for patients. However, there is also unsettling research demonstrating that many patients face barriers to accessing treatment such as this. An article in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, based on 864 patients diagnosed with psoriasis, found over the past few years that prior authorization requirements have increased from 16% of patients to 75% of patients, if they are prescribed a biologic medication. In addition, prior authorization denial rates rose from 0% to 19% in a recent five-year period. It’s a tricky time for patients and payers, as new (and expensive) treatments become available, yet the path to getting these treatments becomes more difficult.

When a patient is referred to BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy for biologic therapy, we understand the potential barriers and provide support to the prescribing physician in the benefit investigation process, as well as letting the prescriber know which forms, treatment history, and data is necessary for prior authorization for the patient’s particular plan. Working as a team, the patient is more likely to get the prompt and appropriate treatment needed for their condition.


Gordon KB, Blauvelt A, Papp KA, et al. Phase 3 trials of ixekizumab in moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. N Engl J Med 2016;375:345-56.

Abdelnabi M, Patel A, Rengifo-Pardo M, et al. Insurance coverage of biologics for moderate-to-severe psoriasis: A retrospective, observational 5-year chart review. Am J Clin Dermatol 2016;17(4):421-4.

Stephen C. Vogt, Pharm.D.
President and CEO
BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy



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