The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of pimecrolimus and tacrolimus for atopic eczema: a systematic review and economic evaluation

Garside R, Stein K, Castelnuovo E, Pitt M, Ashcroft D, Dimmock P, Payne L
Record ID 32005001126
Authors' objectives:

The aim of this report was to consider the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of pimecrolimus for mild to moderate atopic eczema and tacrolimus for moderate to severe atopic eczema compared with current standard treatment in adults and children.

Authors' results and conclusions: The pimecrolimus trial reports were of varying quality; however when compared with a placebo (emollient), pimecrolimus was found to be more effective and to provide quality of life improvements. There is very little evidence available about pimecrolimus compared with topical corticosteroids. Compared with a placebo (emollient), both 0.03% and 0.1% tacrolimus were found to be more effective. Compared with a mild corticosteroid, 0.03% tacrolimus is more effective in children as measured by a 90% or better improvement in the Physician-s Global Evaluation (PGE). Compared with potent topical corticosteroids, no significant difference in effectiveness is seen with 0.1% tacrolimus as measured by a 75% or greater improvement in the PGE. Minor application site adverse effects are common with tacrolimus. However, this did not lead to increased rates of withdrawal from treatment in trial populations.
Authors' recommendations: There is limited evidence from a small number of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that pimecrolimus is more effective than placebo treatment in controlling mild to moderate atopic eczema. Although greater than for pimecrolimus, the evidence base for tacrolimus in moderate to severe atopic eczema is also limited. At both 0.1% and 0.03% potencies, tacrolimus appears to be more effective than the placebo treatment and mild topical corticosteroids. However, these are not the most clinically relevant comparators. Compared with potent topical corticosteroids, no significant difference was shown. Short-term adverse effects with both immunosuppressants are relatively common, but appear to be mild. Experience of long-term use of the agents is lacking so the risk of rare but serious adverse effects remains unknown. No conclusions can be confidently drawn about the cost-effectiveness of pimecrolimus or tacrolimus compared with active topical corticosteroid comparators. Areas for further research should focus on the effectiveness and safety of the treatments through good-quality RCTs and further economic analysis.
Authors' methods: Systematic review, Economic evaluation
Project Status: Completed
URL for project:
Year Published: 2005
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Not Assigned
Country: England, United Kingdom
MeSH Terms
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Dermatitis, Atopic
  • Tacrolimus
Organisation Name: NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme
Contact Address: NIHR Journals Library, National Institute for Health and Care Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, Alpha House, University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton SO16 7NS, UK
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Contact Email:
Copyright: 2009 Queen's Printer and Controller of HMSO
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