Apremilast for the Treatment of Psoriasis in Special Areas in Pediatric Patients in the SPROUT Study

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Loretta Fiorillo
Emily Becker
Anna Belloni-Fortina
Susana Armesto
Peter Maes
Apostolos Kontzias
Maria Paris
Wendy Zhang
Zuoshun Zhang
Lisa Arkin


psoriasis, pediatric, apremilast


Introduction & Objective: Psoriasis in special areas is difficult to treat and causes significant disease burden. Approved systemic therapies for moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in pediatric patients are limited and require subcutaneous injection. Apremilast, a unique oral immunomodulator that inhibits phosphodiesterase-4, is approved in multiple countries for use in adults with psoriasis, regardless of severity. In this study, the efficacy of apremilast for psoriasis in special areas in pediatric patients was assessed over 16 weeks. 

Materials & Methods: SPROUT (NCT03701763) is a phase 3, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in patients 6-17 years with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis (Psoriasis Area and Severity Index ≥12, body surface area ≥10%, and static Physician Global Assessment [sPGA] ≥3) inadequately controlled by/inappropriate for topical therapy. Patients were stratified by age and randomized 2:1 to receive apremilast (weight-based 20 mg or 30 mg twice-a-day) or placebo for 16 weeks, then apremilast through week 52. Scalp Physician Global Assessment (ScPGA) response, modified sPGA of genitalia (sPGA-G) response, Whole Body Itch-Numeric Rating Scale (WBI-NRS) response, and change from baseline in Children’s Dermatology Life Quality Index (CDLQI) were assessed through week 16.  

Results: Of 245 randomized patients (apremilast: 163; placebo: 82), 101 (41.2%) were 6-11 years and 144 (58.8%) were 12-17 years; 120 (49.0%) patients weighed ≥20 to <50 kg and 125 (51.0%) weighed ≥50 kg. At baseline, 81.0% of the patients treated with apremilast and 84.1% of patients treated with placebo had moderate to severe scalp psoriasis (ScPGA ≥3). Significantly more patients achieved ScPGA response at week 16 with apremilast vs placebo (36.4% vs 18.8%; P=0.0091). At baseline, 110 patients (44.9%; 45.4% apremilast and 43.9% placebo) had moderate to severe genital psoriasis (sPGA-G ≥3). Achievement of sPGA-G response at week 16 was numerically greater with apremilast vs placebo (39.2% vs 25.0%), although not significant, possibly due to small sample size (apremilast: n=74; placebo: n=36). Significantly more patients achieved WBI-NRS response at week 16 with apremilast vs placebo (52.0% vs 32.1%; P=0.0110). Greater improvements in CDLQI were seen at week 16 with apremilast vs placebo (least-squares mean change from baseline −5.1 vs −3.2; P=0.0009). Adverse events were consistent with the known apremilast safety profile. In 21 patients vaccinated during the study (including for COVID-19, influenza, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, meningococcus, and hepatitis B), no new safety issues occurred.  

Conclusions: Apremilast significantly improved scalp psoriasis, itch, and quality of life in pediatric patients with moderate to severe psoriasis. At week 16, patients with moderate to severe genital psoriasis showed a trend toward improvement, although not significant due partially to the sample size.  


1. Merola JF, et al., Dermatol Ther. 2018;31:e12589.

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