Comparison of ustekinumab and etanercept for moderate-to-severe psoriasis

N Engl J Med. 2010 Jan 14;362(2):118-28. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0810652.


Background: Biologic agents offer a range of new therapeutic options for patients with psoriasis; however, the relative benefit-risk profiles of such therapies are not well known. We compared two biologic agents, ustekinumab (an interleukin-12 and interleukin-23 blocker) and etanercept (an inhibitor of tumor necrosis factor alpha), for the treatment of psoriasis.

Methods: We randomly assigned 903 patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis to receive subcutaneous injections of either 45 or 90 mg of ustekinumab (at weeks 0 and 4) or high-dose etanercept (50 mg twice weekly for 12 weeks). The primary end point was the proportion of patients with at least 75% improvement in the psoriasis area-and-severity index (PASI) at week 12; a secondary end point was the proportion with cleared or minimal disease on the basis of the physician's global assessment. Assessors were unaware of the treatment assignments. The efficacy and safety of a crossover from etanercept to ustekinumab were evaluated after week 12.

Results: There was at least 75% improvement in the PASI at week 12 in 67.5% of patients who received 45 mg of ustekinumab and 73.8% of patients who received 90 mg, as compared with 56.8% of those who received etanercept (P=0.01 and P<0.001, respectively). Similarly, 65.1% of patients who received 45 mg of ustekinumab and 70.6% of patients who received 90 mg of ustekinumab had cleared or minimal disease according to the physician's global assessment, as compared with 49.0% of those who received etanercept (P<0.001 for both comparisons). Among patients who did not have a response to etanercept, 48.9% had at least 75% improvement in the PASI within 12 weeks after crossover to ustekinumab. One or more adverse events occurred through week 12 in 66.0% of patients who received 45 mg of ustekinumab and 69.2% of patients who received 90 mg of ustekinumab and in 70.0% who received etanercept; 1.9%, 1.2%, and 1.2%, respectively, had serious adverse events. Safety patterns were similar before and after crossover from etanercept to ustekinumab.

Conclusions: The efficacy of ustekinumab at a dose of 45 or 90 mg was superior to that of high-dose etanercept over a 12-week period in patients with psoriasis. ( number, NCT00454584.)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Etanercept
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / administration & dosage
  • Immunoglobulin G / therapeutic use*
  • Immunologic Factors / administration & dosage
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Interleukin-12 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Interleukin-23 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / administration & dosage
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Ustekinumab


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Interleukin-23
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-12
  • Ustekinumab
  • Etanercept

Associated data