Effectiveness and safety of clofazimine and pentoxifylline in type 2 lepra reaction: a double-blind, randomized, controlled study

Int J Dermatol. 2015 Nov;54(11):1325-32. doi: 10.1111/ijd.12793. Epub 2015 Jun 20.


Background: Type 2 lepra reaction (T2R) is a difficult-to-manage condition in leprosy, and an effective and safe steroid-sparing agent is needed for its management. The World Health Organization proposes clofazimine and recommends pentoxifylline for T2R. Our study was done to compare the effectiveness and safety of clofazimine and pentoxifylline therapy in patients with T2R.

Methods: Twenty patients with T2R were randomized equally. Group A received pentoxifylline 400 mg t.d.s, group B received clofazimine 100 mg t.d.s. for 12 weeks. Both groups received prednisolone 40 mg o.d., tapered over 12 weeks. The effectiveness parameters were days needed for resolution of cutaneous and systemic manifestations, relapses, cutaneous score, systemic score, and average daily prednisolone intake. Safety parameters were spontaneously appearing adverse events and laboratory parameter changes.

Results: The cutaneous scores in the clofazimine (P < 0.001) and pentoxifylline groups (P < 0.001) showed a progressive decline in subsequent follow-ups. Individual follow-ups were significantly lower than baseline in both groups (P < 0.05). Systemic scores fared similarly. There were no significant intergroup changes. Average daily prednisolone intake progressively decreased in group B (P < 0.001). Cutaneous and systemic manifestations took a comparable time to resolve. Both drugs were safe.

Conclusion: Pentoxifylline effectively reduces initial severity; clofazimine provides sustained improvement but acts slowly.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthritis, Reactive / microbiology*
  • Clofazimine / adverse effects
  • Clofazimine / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Leprostatic Agents / adverse effects
  • Leprostatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Leprosy / complications
  • Leprosy / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuralgia / microbiology
  • Pentoxifylline / adverse effects
  • Pentoxifylline / therapeutic use*
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Leprostatic Agents
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
  • Clofazimine
  • Pentoxifylline