Psoriasis Treatment: One Man’s Journey with Clinical TrialJustin’s Story_
Justin Womack always had a few psoriasis spots on his body here and there, but with the traumatic death of his grandmother, the disease went full force - from a few spots to covering 95 percent of his body. Throughout the years Justin tried a variety of different treatments, including topicals, biologics and pills. He found relief in one pill which cleared him after two weeks. But the pill required patients to stop treatment after 6 months of use to avoid possible side effects. And once that time came, the psoriasis patches flooded his body as if they had never left.
One of Justin’s biggest challenges was keeping up with consistent insurance. For the first 10 years of living with his disease, he lacked insurance due to cost. And when he finally obtained insurance through an employer of his part-time position, it was taken from him.
“So I started talking to [my doctor] about other options, because I knew there was no way I was going to be able to afford medicine or to see the doctor.” The doctor told Justin that another way to treat his condition was to participate in clinical trials, which Justin agreed to after long consideration. When a person participates in a clinical trial there is no cost for them to receive medicine that is under evaluation.****_Justin’s Journey with Clinical Trialshe Fears“I didn’t know what to expect…” says Justin, “ But it’s been an educational experience.” Justin states that through his participation in clinical trials he’s learned more about the FDA, the approval process, and evaluations. He has also helped medical students learn more about psoriasis.The Process Justin participated in a “Double Blind Study,” which Merriam-Webster.com describes as “An experimental procedure in which neither the subjects of the experiment nor the persons administering the experiment know the critical aspects of the experiment.” During the first phase of the study, neither Justin nor the doctors knew if he was receiving the medicine or a placebo, “At first the progress was very slow… Later I realized for the first 3 months I was only receiving the placebo… After I received the actual medicine [in the second phase of the study] I immediately started to feel a difference.”The Sacrifice To participate in the study, Justin sacrificed one day a week for 6-8 hours at the doctor’s office. Justin says, “Trading one day a week for no pain and no psoriasis is well worth it in my book.” During his visits doctors would administer the medicine, blood work, an evaluation, a physical, as well as an EKG every 4 weeks.The Effects on Family Justin has been married to his wife for 9 years. Although she is supportive of his treatment, Justin warns that the trial can take a toll on a marriage: “We are at the point where we would like to have kids. But while on the clinical trial I had to sign a contract which stated I would not impregnate my wife while participating in the clinical trial… It took a toll on us because the one thing she really wanted was a child…” Once he is out the study they can decide to have kids, but Justin is not sure when and if he will stop the study anytime soon._** Overall, Justin states his family has been very supportive, “I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”** _
_His Adviceo Research See what type of medicine will be given within the study, and consider all the pros and cons. There are studies which include topicals, IV infusions, injections, and pills. If you are considering participating in a clinical trial,** Justin advises you should research all options to see what study works best for your lifestyle.The Doctor Justin gives a great amount of credit to Dr. Alan Menter of Texas Dermatology Associates. ”He is a big reason why I’ve been where I am.” Picking the right doctor is important in your journey with this disease. Justin states his doctor was the one who suggested clinical trials as an option, which has brought significant value and change to Justin’s life.Talk it Out with FamilyJustin advises that being a part of a clinical trial not only affect you, but your family. He suggests discussing your decision with your family and keeping open communication with them, doing both can also help you keep up with your treatment and other requirements for the study. Justin Today**
Since receiving the medicine 4 years ago, Justin stayed completely clear, but within the last 3-4 months he has started to see spots of psoriasis. He believes his body may have built a resistance to the medicine, which tends to happen with many psoriasis treatments. Justin advises that he is going to remain on the injection for another 3 months, “If I continue to worsen I am going to withdraw from the study and either wait 3-6 months to be in a different clinical trial or go to the regular doctor again depending on my insurance situation at that time…”
_Justin concludes his clinical trial advice with “I don’t think it’s for everybody. You really have to do some soul searching. But I think there are enough people out there that this could really help.” _
Alisha Bridges is a freelance health writer on the topics of sexual health, skin care, and psoriasis. She has lived and thrived with psoriasis for over two decades. Alisha is the creator of www.Beingmeinmyownskin.com, a site dedicated to sharing what it’s like to live with psoriasis. She is also a student at Georgia State University pursuing a career as a physician assistant with a concentration in dermatology. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @alishambridges.