9 Questions You Must Ask When Considering Psoriasis Treatment Optionslby Alisha Bridges Patient Advocate
Despite there being a variety of psoriasis treatment options available, 85 percent of people living with psoriasis still express the need for better therapies. Although treatment effectiveness for psoriasis has increased over the years, many still suffer from the challenges of the disease. One of the top concerns is finding a treatment that aligns with your wants, needs, and lifestyle. These are the questions to ask yourself and your doctor when considering treatment options.
How do I know if a treatment is safe?
Before drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration they must go through an approval process which includes clinical trials. First, a drug is tested on animals; if all goes well, this is followed by trials on humans. This research also determines how effective the treatment is and how quickly it works. Individuals with mild-to-moderate psoriasis can benefit from topical treatments, but those with severe cases typically respond better to biologic drugs in the form of pills or injections.
How frequently will I have to use the treatment?
Frequency of use varies depending on the treatment. Topical treatments are typically used one to three times a day. Biologics are taken from once a week to once every three months. Topical treatments typically have fewer side effects, but take time to work and may not be effective for everyone. Biologics tend to work more quickly, but have a huge price tag in addition to potentially serious side effects.
Am I willing to self-administer injectables?
Are you a person who hates needles? Then a biologic requiring self-administration wouldn’t be the best option for you. You must decide how willing you are to self-administer a treatment. Compliance with any treatment is critical and can make or break the effectiveness of a drug.
How soon should I expect to see results?
The complexity of psoriasis is due to multiple factors including genes, heredity, gender, race, and more. The effectiveness of a treatment is also affected by these factors. The rule of thumb is: If your psoriasis does not show significant improvement after six months of using a particular treatment, it’s time to consider other options.
How convenient is it to get treatment?
Some treatment options only require a trip to your local pharmacy. Phototherapy requires trips to a center with a light booth, although at-home light booth treatment is a possiblity for some. Biologics are given by injection (at home or by a doctor) or by IV infusion at an infusion center. Consider how much of a time committment you are willing to make.
How much will it cost?
Without insurance, the cost for treatment can run $1,200 a year to $60,000, depending on the medication. Topical treatments are the least pricey, and biologics cost the most. For many, cost is a huge factor. Phototherapy, for example, not only drives up medical bills, but the cost of gas and car repairs also increase due to frequent driving to and from the facility with the UVA/UVB light boxes.
Is there a patient assistance program? Will I qualify?
Biologics are outrageously expensive. Assistance programs are usually funded by the pharmaceutical company and are based on a patient’s income or reserved for those without insurance. Ask your doctor or go to the website for your particular medication to get more information.
How easy will the approval process be with my insurance?
A treatment with a high price tag is generally more difficult to have approved. Due to the high cost, you and your medical team must do their due diligence to show absolute need for the medicine. "Step therapy," in which you try the cheapest options first before moving onto the more expensive drugs, is often required by insurance companies.
Is this option easy to travel with?
Topical treatments can be taken and used anywhere, but options like phototherapy or injectable biologics require planning. Injection drugs need to be kept at a certain temperature, so you'll need to bring a cooler. Always carry your medications in your carry-on bag when traveling by air, and have your doctor give you a note so that you don't have a problem when going through security.