Re: "Journal Backs Genentech, Amgen Drugs," Nov. 20:
The article in the New England Journal of Medicine is a big boost to these pharmaceutical companies. However, the cost of treatment, $14,000 to $24,000 per year, puts this therapy out of the reach of many people.
I have suffered with severe psoriasis for about 30 years. I was treated with every modality known at the time with no success. About eight years ago, I heard of an oral therapy used in Germany with great success. I was able to arrange to take this medication, and in a few months, I was essentially clear of psoriasis. I am still on this therapy and still free of the disease.
I take three tablets daily at a cost of less than 50 cents each. They consist of fumaric acid esters and are the most widely used therapeutic agent for psoriasis in Germany.
I tried to interest the National Psoriasis Assn. in this agent but got nowhere.
At a meeting sponsored by Biogen to promote its drug, Amvive, I was rudely rebuffed when I asked the company to look into marketing fumaric acid esters. It rejected the request out of hand.
Now Biogen has signed an agreement with Swiss pharmaceutical firm Fumapharm to develop and market its product in the U.S.
In addition to the lower cost of the fumaric acid ester preparation, its toxicity profile is much better than any of the biological agents, all foreign proteins with allergic and carcinogenic potential.
Dr. Sam H. Stone