Topical pimecrolimus: a review of its clinical potential in the management of atopic dermatitis

Drugs. 2002;62(5):817-40. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200262050-00007.


Pimecrolimus (SDZ ASM 981), an ascomycin derivative, is a nonsteroid, has anti-inflammatory activity, and has demonstrated efficacy in reducing symptoms of atopic dermatitis in adult and paediatric patients when applied topically. Compared with vehicle, topical pimecrolimus 1.0% cream was significantly more effective at reducing symptoms of atopic dermatitis, as measured by the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI), in infants aged 3 to 23 months, children aged 2 to 17 years and adults. The median reductions from baseline in the total EASI score in adults after treatment with pimecrolimus 1.0% or corresponding vehicle twice daily for 3 weeks were 47 and 0%, respectively. In infants and children, treatment with pimecrolimus 1.0% twice daily for 6 weeks resulted in significant decreases in mean EASI scores compared with vehicle. The severity of pruritus was significantly reduced in patients of all age groups after topical treatment with pimecrolimus 1.0% cream. Compared with vehicle, the incidence of eczematous flares was also reduced by intermittent long-term use of topical pimecrolimus 1.0% in adults, children and infants. Sixty percent of children treated with pimecrolimus for 1 year completed the first 6 months of treatment without experiencing a flare, compared with 35% of patients who received vehicle. Furthermore, the use of topical corticosteroids for the treatment of uncontrolled flares in adults, children and infants was lower in the pimecrolimus groups than in the vehicle groups. Topical pimecrolimus 1.0% cream is well tolerated in atopic dermatitis patients of all age groups. There were no clinically relevant systemic adverse events reported from any of the studies in patients with atopic dermatitis. The most frequently reported adverse events pertained to application site reactions, such as burning and a feeling of warmth. In conclusion, topical pimecrolimus 1.0% cream has shown efficacy in the treatment of mild to moderate atopic dermatitis in infants, children and adults. Although tolerability data concerning infants and children have not yet been published in full, the drug appears to be well tolerated in all age groups, and there have been no reports of clinically relevant systemic adverse events. Furthermore, pimecrolimus 1.0% cream has shown no potential for skin atrophy, a problem commonly associated with treatment with topical corticosteroids. Pimecrolimus 1.0% cream provides a promising and well tolerated treatment option in the management of infants, children and adults with mild to moderate atopic dermatitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / drug therapy*
  • Drug Evaluation
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Infant
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Tacrolimus / analogs & derivatives
  • Tacrolimus / pharmacology
  • Tacrolimus / therapeutic use*


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • pimecrolimus
  • Tacrolimus