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June 2005

Dapsone as a Glucocorticoid-Sparing Agent in Maintenance-Phase Pemphigus Vulgaris

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Dermatology and Pathology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco (Dr Heaphy); Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania (Drs Albrecht and Werth), and Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Dr Werth), Philadelphia.

Arch Dermatol. 2005;141(6):699-702. doi:10.1001/archderm.141.6.699

Objective  To determine the effect of dapsone on glucocorticoid-dependent patients with active or maintenance-phase pemphigus vulgaris.

Design  Retrospective study of consecutive patients treated with dapsone.

Setting  University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (a tertiary referral hospital).

Patients  We observed 9 consecutive adult patients with pemphigus vulgaris being treated with immunosuppressants who were unable to taper prednisone use without abrupt worsening of their disease.

Interventions  Dapsone treatment added to prednisone and other immunosuppressive therapy.

Main Outcome Measure  Steroid dosage.

Results  All patients were unable to taper their steroid dose during the 3 months prior to the initiation of dapsone therapy or had active disease that was not well controlled by prednisone prior to dapsone treatment. With the exception of 1 patient with uncontrolled disease, all 9 patients were able to taper their steroid dose below the adrenal replacement level during dapsone treatment. Maintenance-phase patients taking 15 mg/d or more of prednisone (n = 5) experienced a mean ± SEM drop of 67% ± 7.1% in prednisone dose by 4 months of maximal dapsone treatment and an 84% ± 3.5% drop in prednisone dose after 8 months of dapsone treatment.

Conclusions  These retrospective study findings suggest that dapsone reduces steroid dependence in patients with pemphigus vulgaris, provided they are in the maintenance phase of their disease. These data support the need for a prospective, randomized trial to confirm these findings.