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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 May;52(5):810-22.

Tacrolimus ointment is more effective than pimecrolimus cream with a similar safety profile in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: results from 3 randomized, comparative studies.

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Northwestern University Medical School/Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois 60611-2923, USA.



To compare the efficacy and safety of tacrolimus ointment and pimecrolimus cream in adult and pediatric patients with mild to very severe atopic dermatitis (AD).


One thousand and sixty-five patients were randomized to treatment in 3 multicenter, randomized, investigator-blinded, 6-week studies.


Based on the Eczema Area Severity Index (EASI), tacrolimus ointment was more effective than pimecrolimus cream at the end of the study in adults (54.1% vs. 34.9%, respectively; P < .0001), in children with moderate/severe disease (67.2% vs. 56.4%, respectively; P = .04), in the combined analysis (52.8% vs. 39.1%, respectively; P < .0001), and at week 1 in children with mild disease (39.2% vs. 31.2%, respectively; P = .04). Tacrolimus was also more effective than pimecrolimus based on the Investigator Global AD Assessment (IGADA), improvement in percentage of total body surface area affected, and improvement in itch scores (P < or = .05), with a faster onset of action. There was no significant difference in the incidence of adverse events (AEs), including application site reactions in the 2 studies involving 650 children. Adults treated with tacrolimus experienced a greater number of local application site reactions on day 1; both groups reported a similar incidence of application site reactions thereafter. More pimecrolimus-treated patients than tacrolimus-treated patients withdrew from the studies because of a lack of efficacy (P < or = .03) or adverse events (P = .002; pediatric mild).


Tacrolimus ointment is more effective and has a faster onset of action than pimecrolimus cream in adults and children with AD; their safety profiles are similar.

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