Should Package Insert Warnings Deter Prescribing in Psoriasis Patients with Depression?

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Graham H Litchman DO, MS
Quinn Thibodeaux
Ryan Rivera-Oyola
John Koo
Rick Fried
Gary Goldenberg
George Han
Sylvia Hsu
Leon Kircik
Melissa Knuckles
Andrea Murina
Jashin Wu
Mark Lebwohl


Psoriasis, Suicidality, Depression, Apremilast, Brodalumab


Introduction: Psoriasis, an immune-mediated disease that manifests cutaneously with possible arthritic complications, affects millions of people in the United States and worldwide. Depression and suicidal ideation and behavior (SIB) are two prevalent comorbidities associated with psoriasis, due to the chronic nature of the disease, lack of a cure, as well as social stigma, all of which are detrimental to quality of life. Among the options available for management of moderate-severe psoriasis, apremilast and brodalumab represent recent additions to the therapeutic armamentarium for managing psoriasis. It has been suggested that the aforementioned drugs can lead to depression and possibly increase the risk for SIB. Furthermore, a black box warning was issued for brodalumab. This review challenges opinions that the drugs are solely responsible for exacerbating depression and SIB, when in fact it could be psoriasis itself.

Methods: An extensive search of available literature linking cytokines to suicidal behavior was performed. After filtering for relevance, 22 articles were reviewed in detail.

Results: Brodalumab and apremilast, both molecularly and clinically, do not objectively increase the risk for depression and/or suicidal ideation and behavior.

Conclusion: After careful review of the appropriate studies and relevant literature, patients with moderate-severe psoriasis, including those that experience depression resulting from their chronic condition, would likely benefit from early, rather than delayed initiation of effective medications like apremilast and brodalumab. The speed of response and high level of efficacy of brodalumab make it an ideal intervention for patients suffering depression caused by their psoriasis.


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