A 50% reduction in the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI 50) is a clinically significant endpoint in the assessment of psoriasis

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004 Jun;50(6):859-66. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2003.09.014.


A 75% reduction in the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score (PASI 75) is the current benchmark of primary endpoints for most clinical trials of psoriasis. Many consider this endpoint to be too stringent as it places potentially useful therapies at risk of failing to demonstrate efficacy. We hypothesized that a 50% reduction in the PASI score (PASI 50) represents a meaningful change in a person's life and thus is a better primary endpoint. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed PASI scores, quality of life (QoL) data, and desired re-treatment scores from a number of clinical trials in addition to studying individual elements that make up the PASI. This analysis shows (1). the PASI score is not linearly reflective of psoriasis severity (eg, a reduction in area of 95% without a change in redness, scaliness, and induration translates to only a 66% reduction in PASI); conversely, a drop in erythema, scale, and induration from an average of 3 to 1 would not lead to a 75% reduction in PASI; (2). treatment with methotrexate, an effective psoriasis therapy, more frequently reaches PASI 50 than PASI 75 as evidenced by a recent open trial in which 63% of patients achieved PASI 50 versus 26% achieving PASI 75; (3). improvement in QoL exists at PASI 50, using the Dermatology Quality of Life Index, as documented in several recently completed large clinical trials; (4). patients achieving PASI 75 frequently defer therapy until they are well below PASI 50; a clinical trial where retreatment was patient initiated showed patients did not re-treat until their PASI dropped to an average of 20% improvement from baseline; and (5). effective, meaningful therapies are consistently differentiated from placebo at PASI 50 as evidenced by histologic and photographic parameters of clinical trials of alefacept, efalizumab, and etanercept. We conclude that PASI 50 equates to a clinically meaningful improvement in psoriasis and represents a discerning primary endpoint.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Psoriasis* / diagnosis
  • Psoriasis* / drug therapy
  • Psoriasis* / pathology
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index