Anyone who has ever dealt with eczema knows how much it sucks. Like, we don’t even have to explain anything further (we will, but still), since the pain, frustration, and straight-up depression is all too real and relatable to eczema sufferers. And, unlike other frustrating skin conditions, like acne or dermatitis, there are no effective treatments for eczema—only sticky, ineffective creams, or dangerous, off-label immunosuppressants and high-dose steroids. But a new drug, according to researchers, is here to change all of that.
This weekend, the results of two clinical trials of a new drug were shown to be effective for treating atopic dermatitis, the most severe and long-lasting form of eczema that’s characterized by intensely itchy, oozing, and blistering skin and affects more than 30 percent of Americans.
In the trials, the majority of adults who were given the active drug, dupilumab, rather than the placebo, reported noticeably less-itchy skin after just two weeks, with significantly clearer skin after two months. And we’re not just talking a few clear patches: Almost 40 percent of patients who received the drug saw their rash disappear by the end of the 16-week trial. Dupilumab was also associated with the improvement of anxiety, depression, and overall quality of life in the studies’ participants.
The results are so incredibly promising that dupilumab received priority review status from the FDA, meaning the drug’s approval should come no later than March of 2017. “The concept of targeting the immune system to ward off chronic disease is becoming commonplace; we are using it for everything from psoriasis to cancer, and now, eczema,” says Mona Gohara, MD, a dermatology professor at Yale School of Medicine, who was not involved with the study. “By specifically targeting the source of the inflammation at the cellular level, medications such as dupilumab can, in the right context, be life changing.”
And though the drug’s long-term effects are still being evaluated, the immediate side effects were low and treatable, like conjunctivitis and injection-site irritation. Interestingly, more side effects were reported by patients in the placebo group than in the dupilumab group: there were four times as many skin infections in the placebo group than in the active drug group, suggesting that dupilumab might actually improve your skin barrier function, as well.
And though the world still has to wait for another few months before they can hopefully get their hands on the drug, we’re just happy that there’s a possible light at the end of the tunnel for eczema sufferers. Keep your eye on StyleCaster for more updates on dupilumab in the coming months, and make sure to talk to your doctor to see if you’ll be eligible for the drug when it’s available.