Background Adult atopic dermatitis (AD) can seriously affect quality of life of patients and their families, and patients' disease is frequently not satisfactorily controlled with topical therapy. There is a need for alternatives to topical treatment in patients with moderate to severe AD.
Objectives To investigate the efficacy and safety of oral pimecrolimus, and to determine the response to three different doses in the treatment of AD.
Methods In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, dose-finding study, patients with moderate to severe AD were randomized to receive either placebo, or oral pimecrolimus 10, 20 or 30 mg twice daily. The study consisted of a pretreatment phase, a 12-week double-blind treatment phase, and a 12-week post-treatment phase.
Results In total, 103 patients were randomized. A clear, dose-dependent therapeutic effect of pimecrolimus treatment was observed, with a statistically significant onset of efficacy at week 2 and the greatest reduction from baseline of the Eczema Area and Severity Index of 66·6% at week 7 in the 30 mg twice daily dose group. Oral pimecrolimus was well tolerated and there were no signs of nephrotoxicity or the induction of hypertension.
Conclusions These data demonstrate the clinically relevant efficacy and short-term safety of oral pimecrolimus in adults with moderate to severe AD. Longer-term studies in larger cohorts are now required.