December 14, 2005

Psoriasis drug may also cut depression: study

LONDON (Reuters) - Amgen Inc.'s psoriasis drug Enbrel
appears to reduce depression and fatigue, as well as improving
symptoms of the chronic skin disease, researchers said on

Psoriasis is characterized by inflamed, red, raised areas
of skin that develop silvery scales. The condition can have a
major psychological impact on patients.

A 618-patient trial of Enbrel, known generically as
etanercept, found that those given the drug for 12 weeks had a
50 percent improvement in a commonly used rating scale for
depression and suffered significantly less fatigue compared to
those on placebo.

The clinical trial also reaffirmed the ability of Enbrel to
fight psoriasis, with nearly half of patients taking it
achieving a 75 percent or greater improvement in their
psoriasis, compared with only 5 percent on placebo.

The findings by Ranga Krishnan of Duke University Medical
Center, North Carolina, and colleagues were published online by
the Lancet medical journal in Britain.

Enbrel works to treat a range of autoimmune diseases by
blocking an inflammation-causing protein called tumor necrosis
factor. These diseases, which include psoriasis and rheumatoid
arthritis, occur when the body's immune system mistakenly
attacks healthy tissue.

Rival drugs include Abbott Laboratories Inc.'s

Humira and Johnson & Johnson's Remicade.

The indictable medicines are expensive -- costing about
10,000 euros ($12,030) per patient a year in Europe -- but they
are increasingly reimbursed through healthcare systems under
strict conditions.

Enbrel was originally discovered by Immunex, now part of
Amgen, and jointly developed with Wyeth, which markets the
product outside North America.

Worldwide sales of the drug were around $2.6 billion in