OTSU, JAPAN. Etretinate is a powerful drug used to treat skin disorders such as psoriasis. It can cause serious adverse effects when used in the regularly prescribed dose of about 1 mg/kg per day. Researchers at the Shiga University of Medical Science reported that a combination of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and etretinate at a lower dose (0.3 - 0.5 mg/kg per day) works as well as the pure, high-dose and has significantly fewer side effects. Note that EPA in one of the main components in fish oil supplements.
Their clinical trial included 40 psoriasis patients who were randomly assigned to receive either 20 mg etretinate daily (in capsules) or 20 mg etretinate plus 1800 mg of EPA ethyl ester (in capsules). After 12 weeks the participants were examined to determine the extent of improvement. Forty-five per cent of the patients in the combination group showed excellent improvement (greater than 75%) as compared to 15% in the pure etretinate group. The time to achieve a 50% improvement in psoriasis symptoms was also considerably shorter in the combination group (5.1 weeks) than in the monotherapy group (7.6 weeks). Adverse reactions such as inflammation of the lips, dry mouth and eyes, and scaling were observed in both groups, but were mild and tolerable. The researchers conclude that the combination regimen is effective in the treatment of psoriasis without marked adverse reactions.
Danno, Kiichiro and Sugie, Nobuo. Combination therapy with low-dose etretinate and eicosapentaenoic acid for psoriasis vulgaris. Journal of Dermatology, Vol. 25, 1998, pp. 703-05