GPs may soon be able to offer patients with rosacea a treatment to reduce the facial redness associated with the skin condition.
A topical gel containing the active ingredient brimonidine, an alpha-2 adrenergic receptor which reduces erythema by causing vasoconstriction in the affected skin areas, was recently launched in the UK.
Two-month clinical trials comparing the gel, which is sold under the branded name Mirvaso, with a placebo found that it significantly reduced facial redness when applied once a day, while another study lasting 12 months showed it was effective and well-tolerated in patients.
However, patients still have to avoid the usual triggers for rosacea – such as heat and cold, alcohol and caffeine – so as to prevent the redness worsening once the effects of the drug wear off.
Dr Stephen Kownacki, chair of the Primary Care Dermatology Society and a recently retired GP, told Pulse the drug would be beneficial for those patients who suffer badly from facial flushing associated with rosacea.
Dr Kownacki said: ‘This is a very safe drug and has been around for a long time as eye drops, and is pretty effective judging from the studies so far. It’s not a treatment for rosacea and certainly not a cure, but appears to be very effective for the redness people get and it lasts quite a long time.’
He added: ‘I can see it could be a problem for CCGs as to whether to fund it – this doesn’t replace anything because it’s a treatment that didn’t previously exist.
‘But for those people with particularly severe redness and psychological disturbance as a consequence we shouldn’t underestimate the impact it can have. [If] people don’t go out, they hide away and it prevents them getting jobs and limit what they do, then I think there is a good argument that this should be available on the NHS.’