Otezla - Uses - Dosages - Side Effects - Precautions

Otezla: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

What is Otezla?

Otezla is the brand name for apremilast which belongs to a class of drugs known as phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitors. PDE4 inhibitors are a relatively new treatment modality which reduces inflammation in the body by inhibiting the overproduction of PDE4 enzymes in the cells. As the PDE4 levels decrease, cyclic adenosine monophosphate or cAMP levels increase. Studies have shown that increased levels of cAMP can have anti-inflammatory effects. 

What is Otezla used for?

Otezla is used for the following treatment: 

  • Psoriatic arthritis: Otezla reduces pain and swelling of the joints and can also increase the flexibility of the affected joints. 
  • Plaque psoriasis: Otezla improves redness, scaling and thickening of the skin seen in this condition.

Mouth sores in patients with Behcet’s disease: Otezla reduces pain and improves healing of the mouth sores in patients suffering from Behcet’s disease. The latter is a rare disorder that triggers blood vessel inflammation throughout the body.

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What are the side effects of Otezla?

Otezla is currently approved only for adults. It is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, as there is hardly any cogent study to document its safety in this group. 

Listed below are some of the side effects observed in patients taking Otezla. You must inform your physician if these symptoms persist: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Flu symptoms such as runny nose, nasal congestion and sneezing
  • Fever, sore throat and cough 

Rarely, some people might also experience depression, suicidal thoughts and mood changes with Otezla. You should tell your doctor if you have any history of mental illness before starting this drug. 

Consult our medical experts for more information.


Frequently Asked Questions about Otezla

1. Does Otezla cause weight loss?

Loss of appetite and weight loss are the common side effects of Otezla. This side effect has been observed in 10-12% of the patients taking apremilast. A loss of 5-10% of body weight is most commonly seen, though more than 10% can also be seen in some cases. You must inform your doctor if you observe severe weight loss.

2. Does Otezla affect the liver?

Very few studies have reported the safety profile of Otezla regarding the liver. However, a study from NCBI reported that apremilast does not cause drug-induced liver injury. Since its approval, no case of hepatotoxicity has been reported, but the drug still has had limited clinical use. Since Otezla is an immunosuppressant, there is a possibility that it can cause reactivation of viral infections such as hepatitis B, though no such cases have been reported yet.

3. Can Otezla be taken with vitamins?

No clinical evidence suggests that drug interaction occurs between Otezla and vitamins. However, you should inform your doctor if you are taking any vitamins or other supplements before starting the treatment with Otezla.

4. Does Otezla affect blood pressure?

Otezla can cause low blood pressure (hypotension). Elderly patients are more prone to lowering of blood pressure while taking Otezla. Thus, it is important to inform your physician if you suffer from hypotension or if you take any blood pressure medications, so that he/she can make appropriate dose adjustments to your BP medications.

5. Does Otezla weaken the immune system?

Otezla is not immunosuppressive which means it does not suppress the immune system and can be used by immunocompromised patients as well. Otezla inhibits a particular immune system enzyme that affects certain cells causing inflammation in the body. It also affects innate immunity more than the adaptive immunity, thus the risk of serious infection is less.

6. Does Otezla help with joint pain?

Otezla relieves joint pain, swelling and stiffness associated with psoriatic arthritis. Patients reported relief from symptoms of psoriatic arthritis and improvement in their daily activities within four months of starting Otezla. Psoriatic arthritis is caused by excessive inflammation in the body, and Otezla helps by reducing inflammation.

7. Does Otezla affect your kidneys?

Patients suffering from psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis are more likely to develop chronic kidney disease and renal failure. Otezla is partially eliminated by the kidneys. As a result, if you have impaired renal function, this drug may accumulate in your body and cause side effects. Your doctor will adjust the dose of Otezla based on your kidney function.

8. Can Otezla cause weight gain?

No, Otezla does not cause weight gain. On the contrary, it is often associated with weight loss. Studies have shown that by week 52 of using Otezla, about 19% of patients lost more than 5% of their body weight. Consult a doctor before starting the medication.

9. Can you take Otezla once a day?

It is recommended that Otezla can be taken twice a day. However, you have to take only one pill on the first day. In patients with severe chronic kidney disease, Otezla is given once a day. Please consult a doctor regarding the dosage.

10. Does Otezla work on psoriasis?

Otezla is the only pill approved by FDA for the treatment of plaque psoriasis of all severities. Within four months of initiation, it gives 75% clearer skin, with reduced thickness, scaliness and redness of plaques. Apremilast treats psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis by regulating inflammation in the cells by inhibiting the phosphodiesterase-4 enzyme. This enzyme largely affects the level of inflammation within the cells.

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Disclaimer: The information provided herein is accurate, updated and complete as per the best practices of the Company. Please note that this information should not be treated as a replacement for physical medical consultation or advice. We do not guarantee the accuracy and the completeness of the information so provided. The absence of any information and/or warning to any drug shall not be considered and assumed as an implied assurance of the Company. We do not take any responsibility for the consequences arising out of the aforementioned information and strongly recommend you for a physical consultation in case of any queries or doubts.


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