A “Real World” Study Suggests That The Drug Apremilast Could be Useful for Behçet’s Disease

According to a story from rheumatology.medicinematters.com, a recent Italian real-world study has provided some evidence that the drug apremilast, which is considered a phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor, could be a useful treatment for patients with Behçet’s disease, a rare disease that causes inflammatory effects. A real-world study refers to research that is gathered outside of the controlled environment of a clinical trial.

About Behçet’s Disease

Behçet’s disease is a rare disorder of inflammation that can have impacts in many different areas of the body. The cause of the disease has yet to be definitively identified, but the disease mechanism is autoimmune in nature, meaning that the damage seen in Behçet’s disease is the result of the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissue. Inflammation appears to originate in the blood vessels. Previous infections may be a risk factor. Symptoms of Behçet’s disease include painful sores that appear in the mouth, anal, and genital areas, various degrees of eye inflammation, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, bloody cough, and arthritis. The heart and brain may also be affected in some cases. Treatment is mostly symptomatic, and TNF inhibitors and corticosteroids are go-to medications. IVIG and other medications that modulate the immune system may also be tried. Surgery may be used in rare cases. The disease generally resolves with time. To learn more about Behçet’s disease, click here.

About The Study

The Italian study involved a dozen patients whose painful ulcers failed to resolve with other treatment measures such as colchicine or corticosteroids. The drug tested in the study, apremilast, is typically used to treat psoriatic arthritis, so that patients received the same dosing regimen that would typically be used for that disease, which ranged from 10 mg once per day to 30 mg twice per day. With treatment, patients saw their average number of ulcers drop from 3.33 to just .58 after a 12 week treatment period with apremilast.

Eight of the patients also had skin involvement and all patients saw these disease manifestations disappear following apremilast use.

While the findings from this study are encouraging, a more strictly controlled clinical trial of apremilast in Behçet’s disease with a larger number of patients would offer even more convincing evidence of its impact.

Read the original study, from the journal Rheumatology, here.


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