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Dermatology Medications on Television…

A television commercial advertising dermatology medication

Any time you sit down to watch TV, you inevitably see a variety of advertisements for prescription medication, and more often than not, it’s nearly impossible to tell whether the medication might be a good fit for your particular needs. 

In this blog, we’ll break down the popular dermatology meds shown in current advertising, explaining what the medication is for and if it’s something you might want to ask about at your next dermatology visit. 

Dermatology Medications for eczema (atopic dermatitis)

What is eczema? Eczema is a common skin rash causing red, itchy skin. A variety of medications are currently being advertised to help. 

1. Dupixent:

Dupixent is an injectable biologic medication that targets two specific immune system messengers (Interleukins 4 and 13, IL-4 and IL-13) that lead to the red rash and itchy skin of eczema. Our take: This medication is very effective with few side effects. In fact, it has proven to be so safe that it is FDA approved for use in patients as young as 6 months of age. 

Other applications: Some commercials you see for Dupixent may not talk about eczema; it is also approved for the treatment of asthma and eosinophilic esophagitis. Many patients with eczema also suffer from asthma, so we love having the ability to treat two issues with one medication. 

2. Rinvoq: 

Rinvoq is a once-daily pill in a family of medications called JAK inhibitors. JAKs are a type of receptor found on the surface of cells and they are involved in passing a message sent from other cells along to the interior of the cell they are attached to; there are many signals they can relay, some of which create the red rash and itchy skin of eczema. Our take: This medication is incredibly fast acting, with patients noticing an improvement in itch within two days of their first dose! There are some potential risk factors to consider if you have certain pre-existing conditions, so it is best to have a discussion with your provider to learn if this is a safe option for you. 

Other applications: Rinvoq is approved for seven conditions (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, ankylosing spondylitis, and non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis in addition to eczema), so some commercials you see on TV may not discuss the skin.

3. Opzelura: 

Opzelura is a topical cream that can be applied to areas of the skin affected by eczema twice daily. This medication is also a JAK inhibitor, so it works just like Rinvoq as described above; but, as a topical medication, it is applied just where it is needed. 

Our take: Topical application means full-body exposure is minimized so risks and side effects are greatly reduced. 

Other applications: Opzelura is also approved for vitiligo, white skin patches that result from the immune system attacking pigment producing cells in the skin, and most of the ads you see on TV focus on its use here because it is the first FDA approved topical for the treatment of vitiligo. 

Medications for psoriasis

What is psoriasis? 

This is a condition that shows up on the skin as thickened, scaly plaques that can be itchy and/or painful: 

1. Sotyktu:

Sotyktu is a once-daily pill that is the first-ever medication approved in a class known as TYK 2 inhibitors. TYK 2 is a receptor that works just like the JAKs we talked about above. The difference is TYK 2 is involved in more skin-specific signaling, so medications that work here do a great job of controlling redness, pain, and itch associated with skin flares while minimizing interruption in any other signals being sent. This means lots of skin benefit with fewer unwanted side effects.  

2. Otezla:

Otezla is a once or twice-daily pill that is classified as a phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor. It works by quieting down signal cascades to decrease overall internal inflammation. 

Our take: It is so safe that, unlike many of the other treatments we have for psoriasis, it does not require any laboratory monitoring and can be used safely even if a patient suffers from liver disease.  

Other applications: Otezla is also approved for psoriatic arthritis, a form of psoriasis inflammation that occurs in the lining of the joints, so it is especially helpful for our patients that have both skin and joint involvement. We are also happy to have it as the first ever FDA approved treatment for Behcet’s disease, a rare condition in which blood vessel inflammation leads to skin rashes, oral and genital sores, and eye inflammation. 

3. Skyrizi:

Skyrizi is a biologic injectable medication that works to block one specific signal molecule (interleukin 23, IL-23) that is involved in creating the thickened skin of psoriasis plaques. It only needs to be given four times a year after completion of a one-time loading dose, the most convenient schedule we currently have to offer. 

Our take: Among the many injectable choices we now have for psoriasis, this medication stands out for its incredible safety profile (very few side effects) and rapid skin clearance. Like Otezla above, Skyrizi has also been FDA approved for the treatment of psoriasis in the joints as well as the skin.

Other applications: A lot of the commercials that are airing on TV for Skyrizi now talk about gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and a condition called Crohn’s disease because Skyrizi has more recently been FDA-approved to treat this too. Patients with psoriasis are more likely to have inflammatory GI issues like Crohn’s disease, so it is another win-win situation to have one medication that treats both conditions. 

4. Tremfya

Tremfya works by generally the same mechanism of Skyrizi as outlined above, but the dosing schedule is one injection every other month. It is also approved for both skin and joint symptoms of psoriasis and known to be very safe with fast onset of symptom improvement.

What to know about medications, beyond the ads

Remember, advertisements aren’t the full story! There are plenty of products, both new and old, that aren’t showing up on your TV screens. These products are also safe and effective, but they aren’t featured in television ads for a variety of potential reasons. 

Here are some examples of new and powerful medications we are excited to have as options to prescribe in the office that you won’t see on your living room screens:

  • For atopic dermatitis, we have the injectable biologic Adbry and the JAK inhibitor oral pill Cibinqo. 

  • For psoriasis, we are lucky enough to now have more than ten different biologic medications that are FDA approved for treatment! This means there are many options you won’t have heard of if your only source is the ads on TV.  

  • For alopecia areata, an immune system mediated hair loss that we historically have not had any FDA approved treatment options for, we now have two JAK inhibitor oral pill options: Olumiant and Litfulo, but still no evidence of them on the airwaves. 

You may recognize the names of medications like Humira, Stelara, and Cosentyx from past tv ads. These biologic injectables for psoriasis aren’t showing up during commercial breaks as much anymore, but they are still useful tools in our dermatology toolbox. (...If you have just seen an advertisement naming one of these medications lately, they are now being highlighted for their more recent FDA approvals for conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and hidradenitis suppurativa).

Ads can be a convenient way to get some fast information, but if you have any questions regarding your skin, hair, or nails make sure to speak with a dermatology provider to learn about all the available treatment options and what would be best for you!


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