The Truth about Biological Drugs

Compare the Safety of Phototherapy vs. Biological Drugs for the Treatment of Skin Disease

The side effects of Narrowband UVB phototherapy are typically rare, mild, and topical; the most common are erythema and dry skin.  The therapy is safe for use by children, the elderly, and patients who are pregnant, or nursing.  It can be used with patients who are HIV+, or who have other conditions such as diabetes*.

The safety profile of the biologic drugs frequently used for the treatment of skin disease is not as favorable.   The following chart is a compilation of statistics from the FDA on adverse events and deaths attributed to the use of the more common biologic agents.

Primary Suspect Adverse Effects for 2006-2020 Deaths for 2006-2020
Oxsoralen® 17 3
Cosentyx® 33,884 1,269
Protopic® 22,773 2,476
Elidel® 828 57
Raptiva® 869 312
Otezla® 18,244 1,161
Methotrexate 70,857 5,014
Stelara® 35,482 1,347
Humira® 219,414 18,747
Remicade® 99,037 6,996
Enbrel® 133,665 9,361
Skyrizi® 2,097 136
Tremfya® 2,150 96
Taltz ™ 2,372 176
Simponi® 18,824 547
Cimzia® 28,166 862
Xeljanz® 38,548 2,308

To view detailed information from the chart above, click here.

*Data compiled using MedWatch statistics available at FDA.gov – Skyrzi® (risankizumab-rzaa injection) and Humira® (adalimumab) are registered trademarks of AbbViz Inc.. Tremfya® (guselkumab) is a registered trademark of Johnston & Johnston. Taltz™ (ixekizumab) is a registered trademark of Lilly. Simponi® (golimumab), Stelara® (ustekinumab) and Remicade® (infliximab) are registered trademarks of Janssen Biotech. Cimzia® (certolizumab pegol) is a registered trademark of UCB Group.  Cosentyx® (secukinumab) is a registered trademark of Novartis.  Otezla® (apremilast) is a registered trademark of Amgen Inc..  Xeljanz® (tofacitinib) is a registered trademark of Pfizer.  Orencia® (Abatacept) is a registered trademark of Bristol Myers Squibb.  Enbrel® (Etanercept) is a registered trademark of Amgen, Inc./Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. ProTopic® (tacrolimus) is a registered trademark of Astellas Pharma.

*Archier, E., Devaux, S., Castela, E. et al. Efficacy of psoralen UV-A therapy vs. narrowband UV-B therapy in chronic plaque psoriasis: a systematic literature review. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2012; 26: 11–2