Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Centocor said yesterday that its Remicade got the green light in the USA to treat patients with severe psoriasis, the 13th indication for the product.

Remicade (infliximab), which works by blocking tumour necrosis factor (TNF) is already approved in the USA for Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis. The latest indication is for use in patients with chronic, severe psoriasis “when other systemic therapies are medically less appropriate.”

Remicade was approved for psoriasis last year in Europe, where it is sold by Schering-Plough.

Other biologics already approved in this setting include Biogen Idec's Amevive (alefacept) and Serono/Genentech's Raptiva (efalizumab), while among the anti-TNF drugs Wyeth and Amgen's Enbrel (etanercept) has been cleared for this indication and Abbott Laboratories' Humira (adalimumab) and UCB’s Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) are in clinical trials for psoriasis.

Remicade is J&J's third-biggest product, bringing in $1.48 billion in revenues in the first six months of 2006, up nearly 20% year-on-year. The growth in the product - despite increasing competition in the anti-TNF sector - is largely a result of a continued roll-out of new indications, said J&J.

In trials, 80% of patients treated with Remicade saw a 75% clearing of their skin after 10 weeks.