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What is the Pimecrolimus?

Pimecrolimus is a topical steroid-free medication with immune-modulating and anti-inflammatory properties. It is an ascomycin macrolactam derivative (ascomycin is produced by Streptomyces hygroscopicus). Pimecrolimus is available in New Zealand as a 1% strength cream in a 15g tube.

How does pimecrolimus work?

Although the mechanism of action of pimecrolimus in the treatment of atopic dermatitis is not yet completely understood, the following immune-modulating effects have been noticed.

Pimecrolimus at very small concentrations binds with high affinity to the protein receptor macrophilin-12 (FKBP-12).]This resulting drug-protein complex inhibits calcineurin (a calcium-dependent phosphatase transmitting chemical) that results in the blockage of signal transduction in target cells.

What is pimecrolimus used for?

Pimecrolimus is approved for use for the short-term and intermittent long-term treatment in patients that are over 3 months of age. In some countries, it is only approved for use in the over 2's.

There is no cure but pimecrolimus provides a steroid-free alternative treatment for controlling the symptoms. Pimecrolimus may prove useful for many other skin conditions that respond to types of but there is very little published data to confirm this. Dermatologists are likely to recommend pimecrolimus cream in other diseases when there is poor response to conventional treatments or side effects have arisen.

Side effects of pimecrolimus

Most patients tolerate pimecrolimus well. Initial research indicates it can be used on large areas of the body and for long periods of time without adverse effects, due to low level of absorption internally. However there is no published data in its use for more than one year.

The most common side effect that can be experienced around the site of application is a feeling of warmth or a sensation of burning. This is usually mild to moderate in severity and goes away within a few days after starting treatment. However, if this reaction persists for more than one week you should see your doctor.

There appears to be a slightly increased susceptibility to skin infections Other less common reported adverse reactions during research trials include headache, cough, coldlike symptoms but these were no more likely in patients receiving pimecrolimus than those using a control placebo cream.