Monday, June 24, 2024

New acne treatment ‘exciting’ but Europe will have to wait

A new drug touted as the first real breakthrough in acne treatment in decades has been available for months in the United States, but when it will hit the shelves in Europe and elsewhere remains unclear, Medical Xpress reports

The topical cream clascoterone could give fresh hope of respite from the red pimples and oily skin that plagues around three-quarters of teenagers – as well as many adults.

Despite being such a common affliction, new drugs to treat acne have been rare – though recent research has indicated the role played by diet.

But some experts have hailed clascoterone as the first new type of acne treatment in nearly 40 years.

“What is so exciting about clascoterone is that it is a completely new mechanism of action that addresses the fundamental hormonal (causes) underlying all acne,” U.S. dermatologist John Barbieri told AFP.

There have long been two main types of acne treatment – one uses antibiotics to target the bacteria that causes acne, while the other stops dead skin cells from building up.

Clascoterone makes the cells less receptive to the hormones that produce sebum, an oily substance that normally keeps skin moist but which acne sufferers produce in excess.

There are pills that target these hormones, but they are often contraceptive pills, so are only prescribed for women. And by directly affecting the body’s hormone production, they can have far worse side effects.

‘Very small company’

A 2020 study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology found that clascoterone was more effective than a placebo – and did not have significant side effects.

The study was enough to convince U.S. authorities to approve the treatment, which U.S. doctors have been able to prescribe since the end of last year.

French dermatologist Emilie Sbidian cautioned that the study did not compare clascoterone to existing treatments, “so we don’t really know where to place it.”

However, she said the cream was “very interesting” because it could give a new option to patients reluctant about other drugs – or be used in conjunction with other treatments.

Acne sufferers in Europe are unlikely to get their hands on the drug any time soon.

The wait is not due to any reluctance on the part of the health authorities. The European Medicines Agency told AFP it has not even started evaluating the drug.

The time frame instead comes down to the company that produces the drug; Switzerland’s Cosmo Pharmaceuticals.

“As a very small company, we were focused first on the biggest market of the world, which was the U.S.,” said Diana Harbort, the head of Cosmo’s dermatology division.

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