A new drug, touted as the first real breakthrough in acne treatment in decades, could give fresh hope of respite from the red pimples and oily skin that plague around three-quarters of all teenagers, as well as many adults.
Despite being such a common affliction, new drugs to treat acne have been rare, although recent research has revealed the role played by diet.
But experts have hailed the topical cream clascoterone as the first new type of acne treatment in nearly 40 years.
“What is so exciting about clascoterone is that it is a completely new mechanism of action that addresses the fundamental hormonal (causes) underlying all acne,” said American dermatologist Dr John Barbieri.
There have long been two main types of acne treatment.
One uses antibiotics to target the bacteria that causes acne, while the other stops dead skin cells from building up.
Clascoterone however, makes the cells less receptive to the hormones that produce sebum – an oily substance that normally keeps skin moist, but which acne sufferers produce in excess.
There are pills that also target these hormones, but they are often contraceptive pills and are only prescribed for women.
And by directly affecting the body’s hormone production, they can have far worse side effects.
A 2020 study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology found that clascoterone was more effective than a placebo, and did not have significant side effects.
The study was enough to convince US authorities to approve the treatment, which doctors in the United States have been able to prescribe since the end of last year.
French dermatologist Dr Emilie Sbidian cautioned that the study did not compare clascoterone to existing treatments, “so we don’t really know where to place it”.
However, she said the cream was “very interesting” because it could give a new option to patients reluctant about other drugs, or can be used in conjunction with other treatments.
However, people with acne in Europe are unlikely to get their hands on the drug any time soon, as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it has not even started evaluating the drug.
In its latest financial statement released last week (July 2022), Switzerland’s Cosmo Pharmaceuticals, which produces clascoterone, announced it has found a distribution partner in China.
It has also agreed to a deal with Indian company Sun Pharma, which distributes clascoterone in the US, to expand into Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Australia and New Zealand. – AFP Relaxnews