(BPT) - For millions of people around the world, hitting the snooze button in the morning offers a few more minutes of relaxation — a little quiet time before the day starts or some time to catch up on the news before breakfast. But for the millions of people like Lori who are living with plaque psoriasis, hitting the snooze button in the morning is often an act of desperation, following an exhausting night of tossing and turning and being unable to sleep due to the physical symptoms brought on by the condition.
“For me, the most difficult part of living with plaque psoriasis is the itching, the burning, the waking up in the middle of the night because of how uncomfortable it is,” says Lori, who has been living with plaque psoriasis for 15 years. “And then on top of that having to deal with how society sees me, the looks, and the questions… It's a very difficult disease to live with. I’m embarrassed a lot of times when I go out because it’s so visible.”
Psoriasis is a complex and chronic inflammatory disease that impacts approximately 8 million Americans and 125 million people worldwide. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis, accounting for about 80% to 90% of cases.,,
Signs and symptoms of plaque psoriasis may vary from person to person but typically include raised patches of skin with silvery-white or gray scale that can be itchy, painful and disfiguring. It can appear on any part of the body, but is most common on the elbows, torso, scalp and legs. It can also appear in less common areas, such as the soles of a person’s feet, hands, and even sensitive areas like the eyelids or groin.
Beyond the outward symptoms of plaque psoriasis, the condition can take a significant toll on a person’s day-to-day life — impacting their psychological health and overall quality of life.
“As my plaque psoriasis progressed and my flare ups got worse, it affected what I wore, what I did and even my self-esteem,” says Lori. “I began avoiding clothes that didn’t cover up my plaques, and when my flares were at their worst with the constant itching and bleeding, I would avoid going out in public at all because the stares and questions were difficult to address.”
Because there is not a “one-size-fits all” treatment option, and because many treatment options may force people with plaque psoriasis to make compromises in treatment safety and tolerability, people like Lori who live with this chronic and debilitating disease may endure a frustrating trial-and-error process managing their condition. The journey to find a treatment that is right for them can be difficult.,
“The challenges of living with plaque psoriasis are more than skin deep. Typically, patients start with topical steroids which vary in their regimen instructions, are limited by where they can be used on the body and are limited in how long and how often they can be used overall,” says board-certified dermatologist Sandra M. Johnson, MD, FAAD, of Johnson Dermatology in Fort Smith, AR.
She adds, “Because of this, patients tend to cycle on and off steroid treatments, which can lead to reports of a lower quality of life, particularly when the condition interferes with their sleep, work, and social activities. Higher quality of life can be linked to treatment adherence, but treatment adherence can be difficult when patients may be unhappy with their plaque psoriasis treatment. This is why it’s critical to introduce novel topical therapies that are safe and effective that patients want to use and can use long term.”
Lori shares many of these common treatment experiences, noting that she tried different creams that were both prescribed and over the counter, in addition to biologics. Eventually she would find these topical treatments did not give her the results she was looking for and that biologics were not the right choice for her. A couple of years ago, she decided to join a clinical trial to see if a new type of topical treatment would help.
“I see a lot of patients living with plaque psoriasis, and finding the right treatment for each individual can take some trial and error,” says Jennifer Soung, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, and the director of clinical research at Southern California Dermatology in Santa Ana, CA. “Though the plaque psoriasis treatment landscape has evolved significantly to make room for oral treatments and biologics that treat more severe forms of plaque psoriasis, there is a large need for new topical treatments and particularly for non-steroids.”
Fortunately, there’s hope. On May 23, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved VTAMA® (tapinarof) cream, 1%, a once daily, cosmetically elegant, prescription topical treatment for adults living with mild, moderate, and severe plaque psoriasis. Thanks to clinical trial participants like Lori, this approval makes VTAMA cream the first and only steroid-free topical medication in its class in the U.S. following 25 years of minimal innovation in the topical psoriasis treatment landscape.
With this FDA approval, people like Lori living with plaque psoriasis have access to a steroid-free topical treatment, in the form of a convenient, once-daily cream, that is backed by extensive clinical trial data supporting its strong safety and efficacy profile — even with long-term use, as demonstrated in clinical trials over 52 weeks, and on sensitive areas, such as the face, groin and underarms.
For Lori, the FDA approval of VTAMA cream means that she can effectively treat her plaque psoriasis. With control over her psoriasis, she doesn’t always have to hide visible, itchy and painful plaques behind her clothes, and she is able to attend events without feeling ashamed.
Lori is sharing her story to encourage others going through a similar experience with plaque psoriasis to never give up hope. “While in the VTAMA cream clinical trials, my plaques started clearing. Knowing I have a plaque psoriasis treatment that works for me put a smile back on my face again.”
The most common side effects (incidence ≥1%) of VTAMA cream include red raised bumps around the hair pores (folliculitis), pain or swelling in the nose and throat (nasopharyngitis), skin rash or irritation including itching and redness, peeling, burning or stinging (contact dermatitis), headache, itching (pruritus), and flu (influenza).
If you’re struggling with plaque psoriasis, talk to your doctor to learn if VTAMA cream may be right for you. “Never stop advocating for your health — don’t accept that your disease controls you,” says Dr. Johnson.
Sandra M. Johnson, MD, FAAD and Jennifer Soung, MD are paid consultants of Dermavant Sciences, Inc.
For more information about VTAMA cream, speak to your dermatologist or visit www.VTAMA.com.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
Indication: VTAMA® (tapinarof) cream, 1% is an aryl hydrocarbon receptor agonist indicated for the topical treatment of plaque psoriasis in adults. Adverse Events: The most common adverse reactions (incidence ≥ 1%) in subjects treated with VTAMA cream were folliculitis (red raised bumps around the hair pores), nasopharyngitis (pain or swelling in the nose and throat), contact dermatitis (skin rash or irritation, including itching and redness, peeling, burning, or stinging), headache, pruritus (itching), and influenza (flu).
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Please see full Prescribing Information here.
VTAMA is a registered trademark of Dermavant Sciences, GmbH.
 Menter A, Gottlieb A, Feldman SR, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008;58(5), pp.826-850.
 National Psoriasis Foundation. Psoriatic disease affects more than skin and joints. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/psoriatic-disease-affects-more-than-skin-and-joints/. Accessed August 2022.
 Schaarschmidt M, Schmieder A, Umar N, et al. Patient preferences for psoriasis treatments: process characteristics can outweigh outcome attributes. Arch Dermatol. 2011;147(11):1285-1294.
 National Psoriasis Foundation. Treatments for psoriatic disease. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/treatments-for-psoriatic-disease/. Accessed August 2022.
 FDA approves Dermavant’s VTAMA® (tapinarof) cream, 1% for the treatment of plaque psoriasis in adults: first topical novel chemical entity launched for psoriasis in the U.S. in 25 years. Available at: https://www.dermavant.com/u-s-fda-approves-our-novel-topical-treatment-for-adults-with-plaque-psoriasis/. Accessed August 2022.
 VTAMA Cream. Prescribing Information. Long Beach, CA. Dermavant Sciences.