Relatively high starting infliximab doses recommended for hidradenitis suppurativa

– In patients with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), infliximab started at 7.5 mg/kg was highly effective and well tolerated and may be a more appropriate starting dose than the 5 mg/kg that is recommended in the treatment of plaque psoriasis, according to a chart review presented as a late breaker at the annual meeting of the Society for Investigative Dermatology.

“Based on these data, we believe that a high starting dose of infliximab should be the new paradigm for this disease,” reported Justine Potemkin, a medical student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York. The analysis was performed under the mentorship of Steven R. Cohen, MD, professor of dermatology and chief of the division of dermatology at Albert Einstein.

Infliximab, a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker, is not approved for the treatment of HS, but it has been widely used following numerous reports of benefit in the literature, including a phase 2 randomized study published several years ago (J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Feb;62[2]:205-17), according to Ms. Potemkin.

“Based on dosing recommended for psoriasis, many hidradenitis suppurativa patients are started on 5 mg/kg, but doses of up to 10 mg/kg are within labeling for psoriasis, and our data support more aggressive initial treatment in patients with HS,” said Mondana Ghias, a research assistant in the department of dermatology at Albert Einstein, who was also involved in this study and joined Ms. Potemkin in presenting the data at the meeting.

In the chart review, 58 patients with moderate to severe HS initiated on 7.5 mg/kg of intravenous infliximab were identified. Due to a suboptimal response, 16 of these patients received 10 mg/kg infliximab in subsequent infusions, but the average response scores at 4 weeks compared favorably to previous reports with lower doses of infliximab, without increased toxicity.

“Starting with the 7.5 mg/kg dose with dose escalation if needed appears to provide a maximal response with minimal safety issues, based on our experience,” Ms. Potemkin reported.

At 4 weeks, a 10-point pain scale fell from a baseline mean of 5.65 to 1.34 (P less than .01). It reached 0.52 at week 12. The HS Physician Global Assessment (HS-PGA) fell from a baseline mean of 4.2 to 2.1 at week 4 (P less than .01) and then to 1.9 at week 12. The control of disease activity correlated with significant reductions in C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate.

The mean age in this patient population was 34.6 years. Slightly more than half (53.3%) were female. The average body mass index was 34.

“Obese patients also achieved a good response, which is consistent with weight-based dosing,” Ms. Potemkin reported.

The TNF blocker adalimumab is the only biologic and the only systemic therapy given regulatory approval for the treatment of HS, but Ms. Potemkin indicated that infliximab remains a widely used treatment option. She suggested that the responses observed in this patient series suggest infliximab is effective when used aggressively.

“No previous reports have examined the efficacy of high-dose infliximab,” Ms. Potemkin noted. “We think these findings are relevant to HS management.”

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