Approximately 13 million individuals in the United Sates suffer from rosacea, a recurrent disease that may require long-term therapy. Topical and oral antibiotics have been used to treat rosacea; however, high-dose antibiotics or long-term, low-dose antibiotics commonly used for the treatment of rosacea flares or for rosacea maintenance therapy, respectively, can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant organisms. The first oral medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of rosacea in the United States is Oracea (CollaGenex Pharmaceuticals Inc., Newtown, PA, USA). Oracea is a 40 mg capsule of doxycycline monohydrate, containing 30 mg immediate-release and 10 mg delayed-release doxycycline beads ("anti-inflammatory-dose doxycycline"). Anti-inflammatory-dose doxycycline is not an antibiotic and does not lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant organisms. Each capsule of anti-inflammatory-dose doxycycline contains a total of 40 mg of anhydrous doxycycline as 30 mg of immediate-release and 10 mg of delayed-release beads. In contrast to other oral therapies, anti-inflammatory-dose doxycycline is taken once daily, which may increase treatment compliance. The results of two phase III trials have been encouraging, leading to the recent release (summer 2006) of Oracea for the treatment of rosacea in the United States. Anti-inflammatory-dose doxycycline should not be used by individuals with known hypersensitivity to tetracyclines or increased photosensitivity, or by pregnant or nursing women (anti-inflammatory-dose doxycycline is a pregnancy category-D medication). The risk of permanent teeth discoloration and decreased bone growth rate make anti-inflammatory-dose doxycycline contraindicated in infants and children. However, when used appropriately in patients with rosacea, anti-inflammatory-dose doxycycline may help prolong the effectiveness and life span of our most precious antibiotics.
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