Neoral and Psoriatic Arthritis

A healthcare provider may prescribe Neoral "off-label" to treat psoriatic arthritis. Although this is not an approved use for the drug, Neoral is often used to treat this type of arthritis and can help relieve symptoms of the condition and slow down the progression of the disease. During treatment, your healthcare provider will closely monitor you using frequent blood tests.

What Is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects people with psoriasis, a skin condition that causes red, scaly patches of skin. Like other types of arthritis, psoriatic arthritis leads to inflammation and pain of the joints. Most people who develop psoriatic arthritis will have psoriasis first.

How Is Psoriatic Arthritis Treated?

There are a variety of treatment options available for people with psoriatic arthritis. If you have this condition, the actual treatment your healthcare provider recommends will depend on your individual situation, including the severity of your symptoms, and whether a few or many joints are affected.
Your healthcare provider may recommend medications, nonmedication treatment, or a combination of the two. Most people will need medications to relieve pain, reduce swelling, slow down joint damage, and improve a person's ability to function. However, in some cases, nonmedication treatment may be enough to treat the condition. Examples of nonmedication treatment include exercise, stress reduction, and physical therapy.

Can Psoriatic Arthritis Be Treated With Neoral?

Neoral® (cyclosporine) is approved to treat psoriasis, but not psoriatic arthritis. However, it is one of several medicines commonly used to treat the condition. Because it is not actually approved for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis, using Neoral for this condition is considered an "off-label," or unapproved, use.
Neoral belongs to a group of medicines known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). DMARDs are used to relieve the pain, swelling, and stiffness of joints and, unlike other treatments (such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs), may slow down disease progression.
Once treatment with Neoral begins, it generally takes four to eight weeks for the medicine to start working to relieve symptoms. In addition to improving symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, Neoral may relieve symptoms of psoriasis. Although the medication treats the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, it does not cure the condition. Therefore, if you stop taking Neoral, your symptoms will likely return.
It is important to keep in mind that, like any medicine, Neoral can cause side effects. The most common Neoral side effects include tremors, high blood pressure (hypertension), and abnormal facial or body hair growth. Some reactions, such as kidney and liver problems, are potentially serious.
In addition, Neoral can increase your risk for developing an infection or getting certain types of cancer (see Neoral Warnings and Precautions). If you have received other treatments for psoriasis in the past, you may have an increased risk for skin cancer with Neoral treatment.
If your healthcare provider recommends Neoral treatment for psoriatic arthritis, you will need blood tests before starting treatment. Your healthcare provider will then monitor you regularly during treatment to make sure you are not developing serious side effects from the drug. Monitoring will include kidney and liver tests, blood lipid (cholesterol) and electrolyte (such as magnesium and potassium) levels, and blood pressure checks.
If you begin to experience side effects, your healthcare provider may lower your dose, or recommend you stop taking the medicine altogether.
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