While it’s encouraging that mainstream medicine is hard at work researching and creating new medications to treat eczema, we want our readers to stay aware of the pros and cons of new eczema drugs. Some of the newer drugs should be carefully considered because they are not only very expensive, but they may also have serious or even fatal risks and/or side effects.
Let’s explore the most recent new drugs and learn more:
Let’s Look at Rinvoq®
Rinvoq® was approved in January 2022 to treat eczema. It is also prescribed for psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis. Rinvoq® is an immune system inhibitor (JAK inhibitor) that works by tamping down overactive immune signals that may cause cellular inflammation. Rinvoq® is administered in pill form.
Research supports that it is effective in reducing the symptoms of eczema. When groups of patients were compared after a week of treatment, 44% of those in the Rinvoq® group reached an EASI (Eczema Area and Severity Index) of 75, versus 18% of those taking Dupixent.
The drawback here is that by inhibiting the immune system, Rinvoq® can leave you vulnerable to serious and even life-threatening infections, and also increases your risk of certain cancers. Other risks include gastrointestinal perforations, as well as blood clots and cardiovascular events, especially in patients over 50. You may need to get regular blood tests as usage of Rinvoq® has been linked to hematologic abnormalities.
The cost of a Rinvoq prescription is $5,930 per month without insurance coverage!
Let’s Look at Cibinqo®
Also approved in January 2022 is Cibinqo®. Cibinqo® is only recommended for adults with eczema that has not responded to other treatments. As an immune suppressant and JAK inhibitor, Cibinqo® has similar side effects and risks as Rinvoq®. Those who take it risk serious and life-threatening infections, increased risk for certain types of cancers, blot clots, and increased risk of death from cardiovascular events in those over 50 years old. Cibinqo® is also administered orally in tablet form. And again, you may need to get regular blood tests as usage of Cibinqo® has been linked to hematologic abnormalities.
Pricing for Cibinqo® was not announced at the time of approval. Various sources suggest the following anticipated price ranges, $35,000-$42,000 (estimate) per year without insurance.
Let’s Look at Adbry®
Approved in January 2022 for treatment of adults with eczema, Adbry® is an injection given four times at a stronger dose, then followed by a lower dose injection every other week to maintain results. Patients are given syringes and instructed how to inject themselves subcutaneously.
Side effects of Adbry® can include allergic reactions, eye problems, eyelid inflammation, itching, and swelling (yes, side effects can be very ironic, since some of these are major symptoms that eczema sufferers are trying to treat). There is currently no information on how Adbry® affects pregnant mothers or their unborn babies, or nursing infants. Adbry® also alters your immune reaction and can affect how your body responds to live vaccines.
Adbry® was proven effective in studies, with Adbry® patients reaching a higher percentage of 75% EASI after 16 weeks than those given a placebo.
The cost for Adbry can be as high as $1758 per dose.
What We Don’t Know About the New Drugs
We don’t have enough research on how these new eczema drugs affect children, pregnant mothers and their unborn fetuses, or nursing mothers. The drugs haven’t been on the market long enough to really appraise the full risks involved. It is also unclear whether the results last when treatment is stopped or whether there may be any rebound or withdrawal symptoms.
Our Recommendation: Caution and Conservatism
With any chronic health condition, a conservative care approach is best. What does that mean? It means working with your health care professional to find the root cause of your condition and then treating it with interventions that are the least intrusive, least damaging, but still provide the best results. More invasive and risky treatments, like high-risk pharmaceutical treatments, should only be contemplated when all other treatments have failed and only after all pros and cons have been carefully considered.
Unfortunately, for many patients with skin conditions, the available choices of prescription drugs often fail the conservative care test. Their side effects can be extreme, compromising your health in other areas. They can be cost-prohibitive, even with insurance. Worst of all, they typically manage or mask the symptoms of eczema, TSW, acne, or psoriasis versus treating the root cause. This means you will likely need to use these pharmaceuticals continuously.
So, if you have tried everything to no avail and find yourself at the crossroads of considering Rinvoq®, Cibinqo® or Adbry®, we offer one other alternative to consider that is safer, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal medicine.
What TCM Can Do
TCM not only reduces the symptoms of eczema for many patients, but it also treats the root cause and brings the whole health of patients back into balance so they can experience their healthy natural skin again. It has no negative side effects and provides results that last even after cessation of treatment, with no withdrawal symptoms.
Positive Side Effects with TCM?
The “side effects” of herbal medicine are actually very positive. Herbal medicine dermatology patients report that other health issues (insomnia, digestion, allergies, PMS, and more) have concurrently improved with treatment. This is because when we take into consideration every system that contributes to the skin, instead of just focusing on the surface skin symptom, we treat the whole body. Therefore, it makes sense that other body functions would improve as well.
The other positive aspect of herbal medicine treatment is that its goal is returning the skin to normal function so that you can stop all treatment and maintain your healthy natural skin without assistance. TCM is interested in condition resolution, not symptom management.
Protect Your Long-Term Health
Under the stress and emotional rollercoaster of a severe eczema flareup, it can be tempting to reach for anything that promises instant relief. However, your long-term health and well-being are priceless beyond measure. You owe it to yourself to consult with more than one professional before embarking on a high-risk pharmaceutical therapy if your life is not at stake.
And if you are currently on any prescription drugs to manage your skin and are wondering if it’s the right long-term solution for you, know that it’s possible to wean off your prescription therapy safely, and substitute more natural therapies that may deliver similar or even better results.
There are lots of choices and every day, there are more! We hope that sharing the facts of all the new eczema drugs will help you make a choice that is best for you on every level.
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About the Author
Olivia Hsu Friedman, LAc, Dipl.OM, DACM, Cert. TCMDerm, is the owner of Amethyst Holistic Skin Solutions and treats Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis, and TSW. Olivia treats patients via video conferencing using only herbal medicine. Olivia is Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Acupuncturists, serves on the Advisory Board of LearnSkin, and is a faculty member of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Group sponsored by the National Eczema Association.