Novartis’ Elidel (pimecrolimus) eczema treatment provides both adults and children with long-term control of their disease symptoms, according to new data from the Swiss giant.

The study, which aimed to evaluate the long-term safety and effectiveness of Elidel in adults and children with eczema of any severity who had previously completed a six-month 947-patient core study. The extension study included 368 of those patients who remained in the study and were treated for up to 18 months, with Elidel incorporated as needed into their daily treatment routines.

In the core study, almost 80% of patients using Elidel twice-daily experienced relief from the itching associated with mild to moderate eczema. These results were sustained for an additional six months in 75% of the patients who continued to be monitored in the extension study. In addition, Novartis notes that the quantity of Elidel used during the course of the study decreased from 3.3g per day at the end of the core study to 2.5g per day six months later, particularly in those patients who had the most severe eczema at the start of the study. More than 75% of patients continued to rate their disease control as either “complete” or “good” at the end of the extension study.

“This study provides encouraging news because one of the most unsettling aspects of eczema is the unpredictability of the condition. What this study shows is that using Elidel to treat a flare-up at the onset of such symptoms as tingling or itching may enable patients to control flares and better manage their condition long-term,” said Dr Richard Langley, director of research in the dermatology division at Dalhousie University, Canada.

Elidel was approved in the USA – were as much as 17% of the population is affected by eczema – back in 2001 as the first non-steroidal cream for mild-to-moderate eczema in patients aged over two years [[14/12/01c]], and is available in many of the world’s other major drug markets [[07/04/03e]]. It generated sales of some $349 million dollars for the Swiss company last year – up 49% on the 2003 figure [[21/01/05a]] – and is ultimately expected to become one of the firm’s top-selling products [[23/01/04d]].