This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

First new topical antibiotic launched in UK for nearly a decade

ALTARGO® (retapamulin ointment, 1%), the first new topical antibiotic in nearly 10 years, is launched today in the UK.

ALTARGO® (retapamulin ointment, 1%), the first new topical antibiotic in nearly 10 years, is launched today in the UK.

The treatment is effective against localised impetigo,1 a contagious skin infection common in children and people who play contact sports or live in close vicinity to others.2,3

ALTARGO works fast; a five day course of treatment is as effective at treating localised impetigo as a seven day course of Fucidin® (fucidic acid),4 currently the most commonly used topical antibiotic in general practice.

The ointment is also convenient; patients only have to apply the cream twice a day (BD) rather than three times (TDS),4 therefore removing their inconvenient midday dose4 – useful for adults with busy lifestyles or parents who would need to administer a lunchtime dose to their children.

Dr Jonathan Geldard, a GP from Essex with an interest in dermatology, commented, 'I see around five patients a month with impetigo. In an area where current treatment options are limited, it's great to finally have another option for my patients, especially one that's as efficacious with a shorter dosing regime. Impetigo is an unsightly, often embarrassing condition and the sooner the infection is cleared the better.'

ALTARGO is the first in a new class of antibacterials called pleuromutilins which have a distinct mode of action. By attacking bacteria in four different ways, the potential for cross-resistance with other antibacterial classes currently used in general practice is reduced.5,6

Resistance to fucidic acid is an increasing problem in the UK, with particularly high levels in dermatology patients (up to 50%).7-12 Therefore, the availability of ALTARGO offers GPs an alternative treatment option, allowing fucidic acid to be preserved for systemic use in more serious conditions such as Staphylococcal bone infections. In these cases the development and impact of resistant bacterial strains can be far more significant.

Impetigo is the third most common skin infection in children after eczema and warts.2 It can also affect people who play contact sports, live in close vicinity to others or who have reduced immune defences, and recurrent infections are likely.13 If left untreated, impetigo can spread to other areas of the body and cause boils, abscesses and even toxic shock.13

Impetigo understandably causes a great deal of anxiety and embarrassment. Patients, especially worried parents, actively seek out information about the condition which is why it's important for GPs to be up to date on the latest treatments and are able to offer their patients an effective and convenient treatment regime that fits in with their lifestyles.

The above information is for healthcare professionals only.

Healthcare professionals can request samples of ALTARGO by visiting www.livemedtalk.co.uk, contacting the GSK Customer Contact Centre on 0800 221 441 or emailing customercontactuk@gsk.com.

Prescribing Information Prescribing Information

Altargo▼ 1% ointment (retapamulin)


Indication: Short term treatment of impetigo, infected small lacerations, abrasions or sutured wounds. Consider official guidance on antibiotic use. Dosage & administration: Adults and children from 9 months of age: Apply thin layer to the affected area twice daily for five days. Treated area may be covered with sterile bandage or gauze dressing. Safety and efficacy not established in > 10 impetiginous lesions, lesions >10cm or total surface area >100cm2. Contraindications: Known/suspected hypersensitivity to retapamulin or excipients. Warnings & precautions: Treatment area should be no more than 2% of body surface area in patients under 18 years. Avoid eyes, mucous membrances and ingestion. Do not use to treat infections known or likely to be due to MRSA. Not for treatment of abscesses. Consider alternative therapy if no improvement / worsening after 2-3 days of treatment. Discontinue if sensitisation/severe local reaction. Prolonged use may result in overgrowth of non-susceptible organisms, including fungi. Pregnancy: Use only when topical antibacterial therapy clearly indicated and considered preferable to use of systemic antibacterial agent. Side effects: Common – irritation; uncommon – pain, pruritus, erythema or contact dermatitis. See SPC for full details. Legal category: POM Basic NHS cost: 1 x 5g tube, £7.89 MA No.: EU/1/07/390/002 MA Holder: Glaxo Group Ltd, Greenford, Middlesex UB6 0NN, UK. Date of preparation: November 2007. Code: ALT/PRI/07/33777/1


Information about adverse event reporting can also be found at www.yellowcard.gov.uk.


GlaxoSmithKline encourages healthcare professionals to report adverse events, pregnancy, overdose and unexpected benefits to the company on 0800 221 441. Please consult the Summary of Product Characteristics for full details on the safety profile of Altargo.

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say