Many of the advanced therapies for autoimmune diseases are protein-based medications we refer to as biologics. To avoid stomach digestion, which would render at this medication ineffective, they are given by subcutaneous injection (just under the skin) or infusion. Many of the injections are available as an autoinjector or a prefilled syringe. The syringe requires a person to push the needle through the skin and depress the plunger themselves. Some of these medications require two separate injections for one dose.
Risankizumab (Skyrizi) is a biologic treatment for moderate to severe plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It was initially available as a 75 mg prefilled syringe and each dose required two syringes to be given. Recently, a new formulation was developed whereby the full dose of 150 mg is now contained in one prefilled syringe or an autoinjector. For patients who may not have the dexterity to use the prefilled syringe or simply may not feel comfortable using it, the autoinjector now provides an amazing alternative to enable them to successfully self-inject their medication. For both these conditions, Skyrizi is administered at week 0, week 4, and then every 12 weeks as a maintenance dose. This is a great example of how manufacturers continue to enhance these medications to make them easier for patients to administer.
Risankizumab has also been recently approved for Crohn’s disease, but in a different format than the dosing used for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. When treating Crohn’s Disease, the initial doses are given by infusion in a clinic. Maintenance doses are higher than that used for psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis (600mg) requiring a different type of automated device referred to as an on-body injection. This dispenses the medication through a subcutaneous needle over five minutes while the device has adhered to the skin.
As pharmacists at Charlton Health, it is exciting for us to see this innovation and the ability to grow our resources to support patient care.
Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health. Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain, and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.