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Taltz (also referred to by its generic name, ixekizumab) is a biologic medication that is used to treat psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
How does Taltz work?
Taltz 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, Taltz inhibits its action (ie. stops it from working as it usually does). This means Taltz interrupts the inflammatory cycle of psoriasis, which can lead to the improvement in symptoms for many people who take it.
Because of the effect Taltz 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 Taltz 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 Taltz for?
Taltz is for people with severe psoriasis who have not responded to, or cannot take or tolerate other systemic treatments including ciclosporin, methotrexate or PUVA. Most people will have to have tried these treatments before they can be offered Taltz or any other biologic treatment for their psoriasis.
Taltz can also be prescribed to treat active and ‘progressive’ (worsening) psoriatic arthritis if other disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs have not worked. This includes other ‘anti-TNF’ biologic treatments that are available for psoriatic arthritis. This means that if you have taken systemic treatments such as methotrexate,sulfasalazine or leflunomide, or biologic treatments such as Simponi (golimumab),Humira (adalimumab), Enbrel (etanercept) or Remicade (infliximab) for your psoriatic arthritis without a good response, you could be offered Taltz.
How is Taltz used?
Taltz is taken as an injection under the skin, either via pre-filled syringe or pre-filled ‘pen device. Most people will be trained by a nurse to administer the injection themselves. A Taltz syringe or ‘pen’ holds 80mg, but the recommended first dose is 160mg, meaning two injections should be taken. After this initial dose, people will usually have 80mg (one injection) every other week, at weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12. After this, people usually have one 80mg injection every four weeks.
People taking Taltz are likely to need regular blood tests - usually carried out by a Dermatology Nurse 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 Taltz, the treatment may be stopped.
Who should not take Taltz?
- Taltz should be used with caution in people who have an active infection. Some infections – including tuberculosis – will need to be treated before Taltz can be taken. Your doctor will test for infections before starting treatment with Taltz
- Pregnant women should not be treated with Taltz and women should not fall pregnant for at least 10 weeks after treatment has stopped
- Caution is advised in people with Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis, as Taltz has been shown to exacerbate (make worse) these conditions in some cases. If you have one of these conditions and you are offered Taltz, make sure you discuss this with your doctor
- Caution is also advised for those with already impaired immune systems
What are the side effects of Taltz?
Taltz is a new treatment and, as such, the information on side effects comes from clinical trials.
The most common side effects reported in clinical trials include upper respiratory tract infections, injection site reactions (such as redness or burning of the skin where the treatment is injected), pain in the mouth or throat, and nausea. Fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot, were also common. Most infections were not serious and did not cause the person to have to stop taking Taltz. However, if a serious infection does occur a doctor will most likely stop treatment with Taltz.
The information on this page is also available in our Taltz (ixekizumab) information sheet.