GENERIC NAME: ustekinumab
BRAND NAME: Stelara
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Ustekinumab is an injectable biologic drug that suppresses the immune system and is used for the treatment of psoriasis. It is an antibody that binds to interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-23, two chemicals produced by cells in the body that stimulate immune reactions. Scientists believe that psoriasis is caused by an increase in the production of T-lymphocytes in response to the attachment of a stimulant, such as interleukin, to the lymphocyte. Stimulated T-lymphocytes cause skin cells to grow rapidly, and the rapid growth of the skin cells produces the skin plaques of psoriasis. Ustekinumab reduces symptoms of psoriasis (inflammation and excessive production of skin cells) by attaching to IL-12 and IL-23, preventing them from binding and activating T-lymphocytes. In scientific studies, 59% to 73% of patients received an assessment of cleared or minimal psoriasis after 12 weeks of treatment. Ustekinumab was approved by the FDA in September 2009.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Ustekinumab is used for the treatment of adult patients (18 years or older) with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis who are candidates for phototherapy or medications that are absorbed into the blood stream (systemic therapy).
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