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Drug for common skin condition can help people lose weight: study

CBS Philadelphia 11/29/2022 Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A drug used to treat a common skin condition can also help people lose weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, new research from the University of Pennsylvania shows.

Kim King is being treated at Penn Medicine for the skin condition psoriasis, which causes dry, itchy, patches.

"It was raw and sometimes itchy," King said. "But the real issue was when I would wear shorts in the summer and people would go, 'oh my God, what's wrong with his legs?'"

King's psoriasis is now under control, and because people with the condition have an increased risk for heart disease, Kim was referred to a cardiologist who found he also had coronary artery disease.

"At first my reaction was wow, that seems like a stretch," King said, "but the more I thought about it, it makes sense. If there's inflammation all over my body, that there may be inflammation inside as well."

Kim's dermatologist, Dr. Joel Gelfand, the vice chair of clinical research and medical director of the Penn Medicine Dermatology Clinical Studies Unit, says there are a variety of effective treatments for psoriasis.

One called Otezla can also help patients lose weight, according to new research headed by Gelfand.

"On average people would take this medication lose about three to four pounds," Gelfand said, "and some patients lose a substantial amount of weight. About 20% of people lose about 5% of their body weight, and that loss of body fat occurred both in continuous body fat -- that's body fat right beneath the skin -- as well as visceral body fat, the fat that surrounds our organs."

Gelfand's research showed Otezla can help psoriasis patients lose the right kind of weight that improves both their cardiovascular health and their skin condition.

"What's really fascinating about this is that when people lose weight with psoriasis, their disease becomes more easy to control," Gelfand said.

The research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association also showed that Otezla did not bring any meaningful changes to inflammation around the aorta.

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