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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 37

of 'Vulvar dermatitis'

Topical corticosteroids for atopic eczema: clinical and cost effectiveness of once-daily vs. more frequent use.
Green C, Colquitt JL, Kirby J, Davidson P
Br J Dermatol. 2005;152(1):130.
BACKGROUND: Topical corticosteroids remain the mainstay of treatment for atopic eczema, yet there is uncertainty over the frequency of their use in terms of clinical and cost effectiveness.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of once-daily vs. more frequent use of same-potency topical corticosteroids in atopic eczema.
METHODS: A systematic review of the clinical and cost-effectiveness literature was undertaken, together with a cost-minimization analysis.
RESULTS: The review identified a sparse literature, comprising one previous systematic review and 10 randomized controlled trials (RCTs). No published cost-effectiveness studies were identified. RCTs were focused on potent topical corticosteroids (eight RCTs), with no trials (RCTs/controlled clinical trials) identified on mild potency products. There was broad heterogeneity in trial methods, and therefore we considered outcomes according to: (i) at least a good response or 50% improvement, and (ii) eczema rated as cleared or controlled. Studies found little difference between once-daily and more frequent use of topical corticosteroids. The literature on moderately potent and potent corticosteroids offered no basis for favouring once-daily or more frequent use, although some significant differences favouring twice-daily treatment were identified. One RCT on very potent products favoured three times daily use on the basis of clinical response, but reported no difference in the numbers with at least a good response. Given the similar outcomes seen in clinical effectiveness a cost-minimization approach was adopted to consider cost effectiveness, in order to identify the least-cost option. However, cost-minimization analysis proved complex due to wide variations in product price, with the relative cost of product comparisons by frequency proving the most important factor in determining the least-cost alternative.
CONCLUSIONS: This review has not identified any clear differences in outcomes between once-daily and more frequent application of topical corticosteroids. We would encourage prescribing clinicians to consider the once-daily use of topical corticosteroids when making treatment decisions for patients with atopic eczema. However, we find that the literature on clinical effectiveness is limited and a broader understanding of compliance and phobia associated with topical steroids is needed to inform on this issue.
Southampton Health Technology Assessments Centre, Wessex Institute for Health Research and Development, University of Southampton, Southampton SO16 7PX, UK. c.green@soton.ac.uk