Fumaric acid esters for severe psoriasis: A retrospective review of 58 cases

Matthew J. Harries, R. J.G. Chalmers, C. E.M. Griffiths

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Background: Fumaric acid esters (FAE) have been used to treat severe psoriasis in northern Europe for over 20 years. A recent systematic review has shown FAE to be an effective systemic treatment for severe psoriasis. However, FAE remain unlicensed in the U.K. Objectives: To present data relating to the efficacy and tolerability of FAE in severe psoriasis and report our experiences of FAE therapy at one U.K. centre. 

Methods: Patients who had received FAE for severe psoriasis at one U.K. regional referral centre between June 1999 and October 2003 were identified from pharmacy records. Their records were analysed retrospectively. 

Results: Fifty-eight patients (25 women, 33 men) were identified. Fifty-five (95%) of the 58 patients had previously used other systemic antipsoriatic therapies with over 70% previously using two or more agents. Thirty-two patients (55%) showed improvement in their psoriasis with 10 (17%) being rated as 'clear' or 'virtually clear' by the attending physician. No improvement was seen in 28% patients and 16% showed worsening of their disease. Adverse events were common and were reported in 66% patients. These mainly consisted of abdominal pain (61%), diarrhoea (55%), flushing (45%), nausea (21%) and malaise (15%). They led to discontinuation of treatment in 15 patients after a mean period of 4-7 months. Lymphocytopenia developed during treatment in 57% of patients, all of whom had had a baseline value within the normal range. In only one patient was this considered severe enough to warrant withdrawal of treatment. 

Conclusions: Our study has shown that FAE are an effective therapy in selected patients with severe psoriasis, even in those who have previously been intolerant of systemic therapy or where it has failed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-551
Number of pages3
JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2005


  • fumaric acid esters
  • psoriasis
  • treatment


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