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The New England journal of medicine


BACKGROUND: Systemic oral phosphodiesterase type 4 (PDE-4) inhibitors have been effective in the treatment of psoriasis. Roflumilast cream contains a PDE-4 inhibitor that is being investigated for the topical treatment of psoriasis.

METHODS: In this phase 2b, double-blind trial, we randomly assigned adults with plaque psoriasis in a 1:1:1 ratio to use roflumilast 0.3% cream, roflumilast 0.15% cream, or vehicle (placebo) cream once daily for 12 weeks. The primary efficacy outcome was the investigator's global assessment (IGA) of a status of clear or almost clear at week 6 (assessed on a 5-point scale of plaque thickening, scaling, and erythema; a score of 0 indicates clear, 1 almost clear, and 4 severe). Secondary outcomes included an IGA score indicating clear or almost clear plus a 2-grade improvement in the IGA score for the intertriginous area and the change in the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score (range, 0 to 72, with higher scores indicating worse disease). Safety was also assessed.

RESULTS: Among 331 patients who underwent randomization, 109 were assigned to roflumilast 0.3% cream, 113 to roflumilast 0.15% cream, and 109 to vehicle cream. An IGA score indicating clear or almost clear at week 6 was observed in 28% of the patients in the roflumilast 0.3% group, in 23% in the roflumilast 0.15% group, and in 8% in the vehicle group (P<0.001 and P = 0.004 vs. vehicle for roflumilast 0.3% and 0.15%, respectively). Among the approximately 15% of patients overall who had baseline intertriginous psoriasis of at least mild severity, an IGA score at week 6 indicating clear or almost clear plus a 2-grade improvement in the intertriginous-area IGA score occurred in 73% of the patients in the roflumilast 0.3% group, 44% of those in the roflumilast 0.15% group, and 29% of those in the vehicle group. The mean baseline PASI scores were 7.7 in the roflumilast 0.3% group, 8.0 in the roflumilast 0.15% group, and 7.6 in the vehicle group; the mean change from baseline at week 6 was -50.0%, -49.0%, and -17.8%, respectively. Application-site reactions occurred with similar frequency in the roflumilast groups and the vehicle group.

CONCLUSIONS: Roflumilast cream administered once daily to affected areas of psoriasis was superior to vehicle cream in leading to a state of clear or almost clear at 6 weeks. Longer and larger trials are needed to determine the durability and safety of roflumilast in psoriasis. (Funded by Arcutis Biotherapeutics; ARQ-151 201 number, NCT03638258.).

Medical Subject Headings

Administration, Topical; Adult; Aminopyridines; Benzamides; Cyclopropanes; Double-Blind Method; Drug Administration Schedule; Female; Humans; Least-Squares Analysis; Male; Middle Aged; Phosphodiesterase 4 Inhibitors; Psoriasis; Severity of Illness Index; Skin Cream

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