Secukinumab (Cosentyx) is already FDA-approved for psoriatic arthritis (PsA), but a new study further confirms that the biologic medication is effective — and that it enables patients to stay in remission or maintain low disease activity for at least two years.

The study, an analysis of results from an earlier clinical trial, used a relatively new assessment tool called PASDAS (Psoriatic Arthritis Disease Activity Score) to determine how patients fare on secukinumab.

According to the new analysis, which was published in Arthritis Research & Therapy, PsA patients who used this injectible drug were more likely to achieve remission or low disease activity as defined by PASDAS after 16 weeks compared to those using a placebo. They were also more likely to stay in remission or low disease activity for a two-year period.

Secukinumab works by blocking a protein, interleukin 17A, that causes inflammation.

PASDAS was developed by the Group for Research and Assessment of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis (GRAPPA), an international group of physicians (including rheumatologists and dermatologists), researchers, and pharmaceutical company representatives. Most other assessment tools, including the criteria set forth by the American College of Rheumatology, rely on a physician’s evaluation of a patient’s tender and swollen joints. PASDAS also factors in the condition of a patient’s skin as well as feedback from the patient about fatigue level, quality of life, and degree of disability.

The study authors note that although PASDAS is more comprehensive than other evaluation tools — it “assesses multiple manifestations of PsA, distinguishes treatment effects, [and] performs better than traditional joint-only indices” — it is more complex to calculate. They suggest that even if PASDAS doesn’t catch on with most health care providers, it can be a valuable tool in future PsA clinical trials.

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