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Eczema Drugs Linked to Added Cancer Risk

Eczema is a form of dermatitis (skin irritation) characterized by red, flaky skin, that may crack or blister. It is usually treated topically, with creams or ointments. In 2006, two topical eczema drugs, Elidel Cream (pimecrolimus) and Protopic Ointment (tacrolimus), received label changes after studies showed a potential risk of cancer associated with the medications.


In January, 2006, after prompting from the FDA’s Pediatric Advisory Committee, the FDA ordered a black box warning for Elidel and Protopic explaining the possible risk of lymph node or skin cancer associated with the use of the medications.

The FDA also warned that Elidel and Protopic should only be used as “second-line treatments” for eczema, meaning that other prescription topical medicines should be tried first. Additionally, it was recommended that patients avoid long-term use and that the drugs not be administered to children under 2 years of age.


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