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Br J Dermatol. 1997 Mar;136(3):351-5.

Azathioprine in dermatology: a survey of current practice in the U.K.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, North Staffordshire Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, U.K.


Azathioprine has an important role in treatment of many inflammatory dermatoses. In view of the current emphasis on evidence-based medicine, we performed a questionnaire-based survey to establish current practice in the use of azathioprine by consultant dermatologists and associate specialists in the U.K. The response rate was 68%. In contrast with the manufacturer's recommendation, our data provide evidence that azathioprine is useful in the treatment of a wide variety of dermatological diseases. However, there is still a need for controlled trials in some conditions. The most common conditions treated were pemphigoid, pemphigus and atopic eczema. In addition, we found that only 13% of dermatologists prescribe azathioprine according to body weight. Most dermatologists felt that azathioprine was well tolerated. No one tested for thiopurine methyltransferase (TPMT) activity, which is thought to be a predictor of severe myelosuppression. The combination of prescribing azathioprine according to body weight and measuring TPMT activity would optimize efficacy and minimize potential severe myelotoxicity.

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