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Keywords:

  • adrenal suppression;
  • atopic dermatitis;
  • atrophy;
  • corticosteroids;
  • intermittent dosing

Summary

Background One of the most troublesome features of atopic dermatitis (AD) is its chronic relapsing nature, and there is a lack of published evidence on the best treatment strategy for long-term management of the disease.

Objectives To compare an intermittent dosing regimen of fluticasone propionate (FP) cream 0·05% (twice per week) with its vehicle base in reducing the risk of relapse when added to regular daily emollient in adult and paediatric subjects with stabilized AD.

Methods Subjects (aged 3 months to 65 years) with moderate or severe AD were enrolled into an open-label Stabilization Phase of up to 4 weeks on daily emollients plus FP twice daily. Those subjects who achieved ‘treatment success’ (Global Assessment Score ≤ 2, erythema, pruritus, and papulation/induration/oedema scores ≤ 1) entered the double-blind Maintenance Phase. They continued with regular emollients and were randomized at a 2 : 1 ratio to either intermittent FP or vehicle, once daily 4 days per week for 4 weeks followed by once daily 2 days per week for 16 weeks. Subjects who relapsed on intermittent FP were discontinued from the study. Those who did not relapse continued for an additional 24 weeks on intermittent dosing for safety monitoring.

Results A total of 372 (247 paediatric, 125 adult) subjects were enrolled into the Stabilization Phase. Of these, 348 (231 children, 117 adults) were randomized into the Maintenance Phase. Analysis of the primary efficacy parameter showed that subjects receiving intermittent FP cream (twice per week), in addition to regular daily emollients in the Maintenance Phase, were 7·7 times less likely to have an AD relapse than subjects receiving intermittent vehicle cream/emollients [Mantel–Haenszel (MH) estimate of the odds ratio, 95% confidence interval (CI) 4·6, 12·8; P < 0·001]. Paediatric subjects were 8·1 times less likely to have an AD relapse (95% CI 4·3, 15·2; P < 0·001) and adult subjects were 7·0 times less likely to have an AD relapse (95% CI 3·0, 16·7; P < 0·001). For subjects receiving intermittent FP cream/emollient, the median time to relapse could not be estimated as the majority remained controlled at 20 weeks. For those receiving intermittent vehicle/emollient, the median time to relapse was 4·7 weeks. For paediatric and adult groups, this was 5·1 and 4·1 weeks, respectively. Median exposure to FP for all subjects was 337 days. There was only one study drug-related adverse event (acne) and there were no reports of skin thinning or atrophy associated with the use of FP cream in paediatric or adult subjects.

Conclusions In paediatric and adult subjects, once stabilized with regular FP treatment, the risk of relapse of AD can be significantly reduced by extended intermittent dosing with FP cream in addition to regular emollient therapy.