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Derm News: 2006(28)

Efficacy and Economics of Topical Calcineurin Inhibitors for the Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis

American Journal of Clinical Dermatology
William Abramovits; Peter Hung; Kuo B Tong

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic, relapsing inflammatory skin disease that frequently affects infants and children. The worldwide prevalence of atopic dermatitis is estimated to be 5-20% of the pediatric population. Studies have shown that atopic dermatitis is associated with considerable economic costs and decreased quality of life. There is no proven curative therapy at present for atopic dermatitis; first-line therapy has generally consisted of dry skin care, avoidance of triggers, application of topical corticosteroids, and administration of histamine H1 receptor antagonists (antihistamines) and oral antibacterials as appropriate. Topical corticosteroids, while effective in many patients, carry the concern of local and systemic adverse effects. As a result, physicians and patients are reluctant to utilize stronger topical corticosteroids in certain areas of the body and for prolonged periods of time.

The purpose of this article is to review the efficacy and economics of topical calcineurin inhibitors in the treatment of atopic dermatitis. This new class of agents (specifically tacrolimus ointment and pimecrolimus cream) represents an exciting advance in the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Clinical data show that topical calcineurin inhibitors are effective and do not cause the adverse effects associated with topical corticosteroids. Several studies have provided evidence that topical calcineurin inhibitors positively affect the quality of life of patients and their caregivers. Compared with branded topical corticosteroids and previous standards of care, topical calcineurin inhibitors appear to be a cost-effective treatment option. Drawing comparisons between tacrolimus and pimecrolimus is difficult because definitive head-to-head comparative studies involving these drugs have not been conducted.

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The Derm News service provided by the Editorial Consultants of Skin Therapy Letter© and its founding editor Dr. Stuart Maddin.