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Cosentyx (also referred to by its generic name, secukinumab) is a biologic medication approved to treat severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis under certain circumstances in England, Wales and Scotland.
How does Cosentyx work?
Cosentyx binds to a cytokine (chemical messenger) called interleukin-17A (IL-17A), which is involved in the body’s inflammatory and immune responses. There are higher levels of IL-17A in psoriatic plaques than in non-psoriatic skin. By binding to IL-17A, Cosentyx inhibits its action (ie. stops it from working as it usually does). This means Cosentyx interrupts the inflammatory cycle of psoriasis, which can lead to the improvement in symptoms for many people who take it.
Because of the effect Cosentyx has on the immune system, you will be monitored for infections throughout treatment, and you will be tested for latent (hidden) TB before starting treatment. People taking Cosentyx may need an annual flu jab, but should check with a doctor or nurse before having any other vaccinations or taking other medication.
Who is Cosentyx for?
Cosentyx is for people with severe psoriasis who have not responded to, or cannot take or tolerate other systemic treatments including ciclosporin, methotrexate or PUVA. Cosentyx can also be prescribed for people with active psoriatic arthritis if other disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs have not worked. This includes the ‘anti-TNF’ biologic treatments. This means that if you have taken systemic treatments such as methotrexate, sulfasalazine or leflunomide, or biologic treatments such as Enbrel (etanercept), Humira (adalimumab), Remicade (infliximab), or Simponi (golimumab) for your psoriatic arthritis without a good response, you could be offered Cosentyx.
How is Cosentyx used?
Cosentyx is taken as an injection under the skin, either via pre-filled syringe or pre-filled ‘pen device, similar to diabetes patients. A syringe or ‘pen’ holds 150 milligrams, but the recommended dose is 300 milligrams, meaning two injections should be taken at each dose. In the first four weeks, one dose (two syringes or ‘pens’) should be taken each week. After that, doses are taken monthly. Most people will be trained by a nurse to administer the injection themselves.
People taking Cosentyx are likely to need regular blood tests - usually carried out by Dermatology Nurses, or by their own GP- to monitor for infections or other possible effects of the treatment.
If an adequate response is not seen after 12 weeks of using Cosentyx, the treatment will be stopped.
Who should not take Cosentyx?
- People with active serious infections
- Pregnant women should not be treated with Cosentyx and women should not fall pregnant for at least 20 weeks after treatment has stopped
- Caution is advised in people with Crohn’s Disease, as Cosentyx has been shown to exacerbate (make worse) Crohn’s Disease in some cases.
- Caution is also advised for those with a latex allergy (due to the materials used in the syringe or pen), and for those with already impaired immune systems
What are the side effects of Cosentyx?
The most common side effects reported include upper respiratory tract infections and diarrohoea. Most infections were not serious and did not cause the patient to have to stop taking Cosentyx, however, if a serious infection occurs a doctor will most likely stop Cosentyx.
Cosentyx is a new treatment and, as such, this side effect data comes from clinical trials.
The information on this page is also available in our Cosentyx (secukinumab) information sheet