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Open Access Research article

Approaches to discontinuing efalizumab: an open-label study of therapies for managing inflammatory recurrence

Kim A Papp1*, Darryl Toth2 and Les Rosoph3

Author Affiliations

1 Probity Medical Research, Waterloo, and University of Western Ontario, Ontario, Canada

2 Probity Medical Research, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

3 Probity Medical Research, North Bay, Ontario, Canada

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BMC Dermatology 2006, 6:9  doi:10.1186/1471-5945-6-9

Published: 26 October 2006



Efalizumab is a humanised recombinant monoclonal IgG1 antibody for the treatment of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. When treatment discontinuation is necessary, however, some patients may experience inflammatory recurrence of the disease, which can progress to rebound if untreated. This analysis evaluated approaches for managing inflammatory recurrence after discontinuation of efalizumab.


An open-label, multicentre, investigational study was performed in 41 patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis who had recently completed clinical studies with efalizumab and had developed signs of inflammatory recurrence following abrupt cessation of treatment. Patients were assigned by the attending physicians to receive one of five standardised alternative systemic psoriasis treatment regimens for 12 weeks. Efficacy of the different therapy options was assessed using the physician's global assessment (PGA) of change over time.


More favourable PGA responses were observed in patients changing to cyclosporin (PGA of 'good', 'excellent' or 'cleared': 7/10 patients, 70.0%) or methotrexate (9/20, 45.0%), compared with those receiving systemic corticosteroids (2/8, 25.0%), retinoids (0/1, 0.0%) or combined corticosteroids plus methotrexate (0/2, 0.0%). While the majority (77.8%) of patients showed inflammatory morphology at baseline, following 12 weeks of the alternative therapies the overall prevalence of inflammatory disease was decreased to 19.2%.


Inflammatory recurrence after discontinuation of efalizumab therapy is a manageable event, with a number of therapies and approaches available to physicians, including short courses of cyclosporin or methotrexate.