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Berdazimer gel beats vehicle for molluscum contagiosum in phase 3 study



Treatment with berdazimer gel, a novel, topical nitric oxide–releasing agent, significantly improved clearance of molluscum contagiosum lesions, compared with placebo, in a study of 891 individuals at 55 clinics.

Molluscum contagiosum (MC) remains a common infection that, despite being self-limiting, may persist for months or years, and is associated with quality of life concerns and the need for ongoing therapy, wrote John C. Browning, MD, of Texas Dermatology and Laser Specialists, San Antonio, and colleagues, who conducted the phase 3 randomized study.

The infection is most common in children aged 1-14 years, and treatment may be needed in part to avoid infecting peers and family members, they said. No treatments for molluscum are currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

In the study, which was published in JAMA Dermatology, the researchers randomized 444 patients to berdazimer gel 10.3% and 447 to a placebo gel, applied once daily in a thin layer on all MC lesions for 12 weeks. The study was conducted at 55 clinics across the United States between Sept. 1, 2020, and July 21, 2021. The mean age of the patients was about 6.5 years (range was 0.9-49 years), and about 85% were White. Participants had 3-70 raised MC lesions; those with sexually transmitted MC or MC in the periocular area were excluded. The primary endpoint was complete clearance of MC lesions after 12 weeks of treatment. At 12 weeks, significantly more patients treated with berdazimer gel achieved complete clearance than those on vehicle (32.4% vs. 19.7%; P < .001). A total of 64 (14.4%) patients in the berdazimer group discontinued treatment because of MC clearance, compared with 40 patients (8.9%) in the vehicle group.

Most adverse events were mild or moderate, and rates of adverse events resulting in treatment discontinuation were low overall for both groups; the most common adverse events were application-site pain and erythema, which were mostly mild. Overall, 4.1% of berdazimer-treated patients and 0.7% of placebo patients discontinued the study because of adverse events.

The study findings were limited by several factors, including the small number of patients in subgroups for race, ethnicity, and age; and the lack of data on patients with sexually transmitted MC and on concomitant use with other topical MC therapies, the researchers noted.

However, the results represent the largest randomized clinical trial of berdazimer 10.3% to date, and support its potential as a first-line therapy for MC patients aged 6 months and older, according to the authors. “Berdazimer is under consideration as a first in-class therapeutic agent for MC and may provide a topical prescription alternative to other therapies used for this highly contagious and psychosocially challenging skin condition,” they said.

Having a reliable, steroid-free, safe, and efficacious medication to treat molluscum in the pediatric population, as early as age 6 months, that can be used at home would “change the whole therapeutic paradigm,” one of the study authors, Adelaide Hebert, MD, said in an interview at the Society for Pediatric Dermatology annual meeting in July, where she presented phase 2 data on berdazimer gel. “This is a common problem and the rate of infections among siblings if it goes untreated is 41%. Affected kids have a sense of isolation; they don’t get invited to swimming parties.”

The lack of a safe and effective topical therapy “has been challenging,” added Dr. Hebert, professor of dermatology and pediatrics, and chief of pediatric dermatology at the University of Texas, Houston. She noted that treatments that have been used but have not been successful include imiquimod. “I’m not impressed with tretinoin,” although it is prescribed for MC, and the most common treatment prescribed by pediatricians for molluscum – mupirocin – is “usually not effective,” she said.


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