Biologics serve as a cornerstone in psoriasis treatment, with low disease activity or sometimes even clinical remission as a realistic treatment outcome. So far, it is unclear whether biologics should be tapered when this target is achieved. Dose tapering could offer potential benefits by decreasing side effects, the burden of repetitive injections and costs of biological therapy. However, clinical guidelines on dose tapering of biologicals in psoriasis patients are lacking. This scoping review was conducted to provide an overview of the current literature on dose tapering and offer guidance for clinicians in daily clinical practice.
Dose tapering is defined as the administration of a lower dose per administration, or the prolongation of the regular dose interval, after initial treatment according to the standard dosing. Four electronic databases (PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane, and Web of Science) were systematically searched for literature on tapering of biologics in adult patients with psoriasis from 1 January 2000.
We included 19 original articles on biologic tapering in psoriasis patients: four randomized controlled trials and 15 observational studies. Tapering eligibility criteria, tapering strategies, tapering outcomes, and recapture of response after relapse were assessed. Furthermore, the available evidence on possible predictors for successful tapering, and the effect of tapering on safety, quality of life and costs is summarized. The definition of low disease activity as a measure for tapering eligibility varied widely. Beside tapering criteria, tapering strategies were also heterogeneous. Of note, quality-of-life measurements were barely integrated in the evaluation of tapering outcomes. Literature on regaining response after relapse due to tapering was limited, but restored remission has been described. The included studies did not proclaim a significant effect of tapering on the occurrence of (severe) adverse events. Even though cost savings have been reported, no proper cost-effectiveness analysis has been conducted yet.
Biologic tapering seems to be effective and safe in psoriasis patients with stable low disease activity or clinical remission. Available data on biologic dose tapering in patients with psoriasis are promising, but more research is warranted to fill the current gaps in knowledge.