Can I use Opzelura cream for psoriasis?
Last updated: 29 August 2023
Opzelura (ruxolitinib) secured FDA approval for treating mild to moderate eczema (atopic dermatitis) in 20215.
Given the shared symptoms between eczema and psoriasis, you may be wondering if you can also use the Opzelura cream for psoriasis. Especially if you're based in Europe. In the EU, Opzelura is only approved for the treatment of non-segmental vitiligo 6, but not yet for the treatment of eczema.
We're here to explain everything there is to know for you and your doctor about Opzelura cream for psoriasis.
What is the difference between eczema and psoriasis?
Eczema and psoriasis are skin conditions that share a lot of similarities. Both are chronic conditions characterized by itchy, flaky, red skin.
However, there are also major differences between eczema and psoriasis. Eczema is a skin condition. Psoriasis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease which we know from studies can affect more than just the skin - e.g. the nails, eyes and joints 3.
That's why even though the symptoms may be similar, treatments for eczema and psoriasis will not always be interchangeable.
What does that mean for the potential usage of Opzelura?
Does Opzelura work for psoriasis?
It's difficult to say, as there is no official approval of Opzelura (ruxolitinib) for the treatment of psoriasis.
However, there are some studies that have looked into the effects of topical ruxolitinib (Opzelura's active ingredient) on mild to moderate psoriasis. According to the results reported of these studies, ruxolitinib may be efficient in decreasing lesions in psoriasis patients, as compared to placebo 1. These results were, according to the reports, observed after 4 weeks of treatment 2.
Currently available phase 2 clinical trial data suggests that topical JAK inhibitors, such as ruxolitinib, show few or no local or systemic adverse effects. This may be an advantage of this class of medicines over oral JAK inhibitors or other targeted agents. However, further research is needed to confirm or deny these initial results 2.
How is Opzelura different from topical corticosteroids for psoriasis?
First of all, Opzelura is not a corticosteroid. It's a JAK inhibitor. It reduces skin inflammation by inhibiting the enzymes JAK1 and JAK2.
Because Opzelura is not a corticosteroid, you can, according to the studies published, use it for a bit longer. This means up to 8 weeks, compared to the typical 3-week treatment with topical corticosteroids.
It can also be used on thinner skin areas, including the face and eyelids, where use of topical corticosteroids is typically not advised 4.
The conclusion: Can I use Opzelura for psoriasis?
The best answer currently is, maybe.
Opzelura (ruxolitinib) has not been approved anywhere for the treatment of psoriasis. However, your doctor has the authority to make a judgment call and prescribe Opzelura for off-label use to treat psoriasis. Off-label use is the use of a medicine for treating a disease different from the one for which it is approved.
For example, if you're based in the EU, prescribing Opzelura for any condition other than non-segmental vitiligo would be considered off-label use.
Has your doctor made that decision and prescribed Opzelura cream to you for psoriasis? Everyone.org can help you access it. We specialize in sourcing and delivery of prescribed medicines unapproved or unavailable in a patient's country. Contact us, so we can help you.
- JAK Inhibitors: Treatment Efficacy and Safety Profile in Patients with Psoriasis. NCBI, 31 March 2014.
- Systemic Treatment of Psoriasis with JAK Inhibitors: A Review. Dermatology and Therapy, 31 December 2019.
- Paul, Joan. Eczema vs. Psoriasis: Symptoms, Pictures, Treatment, and More. Healthline, 8 December 2022.
- FAQ - Opzelura (Ruxolitinib) Cream. National Eczema Association, Accessed 29 August 2023.
- Incyte’s Opzelura scores FDA approval in atopic dermatitis. Pharmaceutical Technology, 30 September 2021.
- Opzelura | European Medicines Agency. European Medicines Agency, 24 February 2023.