Elidel (eczema medication) causes cancer?!?!

Goddammit! It figures that they finally find an eczema medicine that actually does something other than make it worse, and it causes friggin’ CANCER. Gar.
<surreptitiously scratches foot>

Link from MSN

This didn’t really surprise me, though it’s unfortunate. The company I work for (which you’ve probably never heard of) has a product we’ve thought about using for eczema and/or psoriasis, but it’s considered a teratogen, so you really wouldn’t want to use it unless you’ve tried other stuff and nothing works, or you’ve got a really serious case of it.

Anyway, it sucks to find out that something that works for you might also cause bad things. DANG!

I’ve got very mild eczema that flares up from time to time, and Elidel never did a damn thing. Good 'ol 1% triamcinolone acetonide … now that’s good stuff.

Why not? Both MTX and Soriatane are teratogens but are pretty much widely used for psorisis treatment.
Excuse the hijack, just wonderin though…

Crud. I guess me and my son will be looking for another medication in the morning. :frowning:

Great. I was assured that the stuff was safe for my toddler. Luckily, she hasn’t used much. :mad:

OK, hold on just a stinking minute people, don’t go running for the hills just yet.

Understand that Elidel works by suppressing the immune system. The active ingredient was originally used for immune suppression in organ transplants. This is powerful stuff, OK? The dose in the eczema cream is very low, OK?

Remember that sunlight has been linked to cancer as well. Lots of stuff can have an effect on your body and you can’t run from everything. All medicines can hurt you if you misuse them or over use them.

That said - yes, you should try other medications FIRST on eczema before using something like Elidel. But if those don’t work, or you have very severe eczema, then it comes down to a risk/benefit ratio. Eczema so severe that your child is coming down with staph and strep skin infections can be quite damaing, including long-term damage - strep, for instance, can lead to heart damage and early death. It is also reasonable to use something like Elidel for a short term to bring a severe outbreak under control, after which you go back to a different medication.

Because this works by suppressing the immune system, it may not be so much that it causes cancer as it suppresses the body’s ability to eliminate these cells before they cause problems.

Now, please note this article said nothing about the names of these studies or where they were published - so there’s no way to doublecheck on this article’s statements. How big a sample size are we talking about? If you’re talking about 20,000 people six cases of a particular cancer is statitstically insignificant - in a population that size SOMEONE is going to get cancer. They also mention psoriasis as well as eczema - they are two different diseases, and having psoriasis, just by itself, puts you at increased risk of cancer. So there’s no way to find out if this is good science or bad science here.

If I come across something about this study at work in the peer-reviewed journals I’ll mention it. Meanwhile - take this with a grain of salt.

So don’t panic. By all means, talk to your doctor. In general, you’re best off using the least strong medicine needed to do the job. Hey, I’ve used Elidel on occassion… but most of the time I use over the counter stuff because most of the time that’s all I need.

Unbelievable - Fox News actually has more information than some other news source. Check hell for freezing temperatures.

OK - apparently the “causes tumors” study was done on monkeys, and is just one study.

As for adverse events - the FDA lists just 54 adverse event overall, not all of them cancer, out of 9 million subscriptions filled since the drug was released. 54 out of 9 million is very, very, very low risk. Only 17 of those 54 people had cancer of any sort. Jimminy Cricket, people, do you know how many people die of liver damage from Tylenol overdoses every year? A lot more than 17 or 54!

From other sites on the web:

Gee - in 2003 they didn’t have enough information to come to a conclusion - this hardly seems like an epidemic in the offing.

I’d say this was a mis-use of the drug, and probably an overdose. If I recall, there’s a caution in the box about extensive areas of the body. And six months isn’t “short term”. Either this was a case of a parent thinking “a little is good, a lot must be better” or the kid should have been on some sort of systematic immune suppression, not a skin cream.

If you mis-use the drug it’s not the fault of the drug, and it doesn’t make it a bad drug. Tylenol can destroy your liver, asprin can cause fatal bleeding, Sudafed can raise blood pressure and be made into methamphetamine, codeine/morphine/relatives can cause addiction… but I wouldn’t give up any of them because, used properly, they’re very helpful and relieve a great deal of suffering. Vitamin A and iron - two essential nutrients - can, in large quantities, be toxic enough to kill. Let’s put these things in perspective, OK?

Looks like it’s a case of “news of the day” - if two years from now we find out the risks are actually minimal or non-existant when used as directed do you think the media will trumpet that? Of course not - and folks will be scared off a potentially very good treatment.

Does Elidel cause cancer? We’re nowhere near getting proof it does.

Thanks for the legwork! I’ve noticed a pension for blowing medical issues out of proportion lately (the stink about painkillers lately comes to mind). I’ll still call the Doctor, but elidel works really well.

I read this thread then went to some information pages about tacrolimus - the only one which mentioned an increased risk of cancer was the page dealing with big doses of oral tacrolimus for organ transplant patients. Surely they must be getting a lot more than most eczema patients??

There was one other sheet in which it said that long term topical use, and long-term was defined as over four years, the effects were unknown.

The prescribed method of use is twice a day, reducing to once a day after a month, then trying to reduce further as possible.

I have very bad eczema on my face, have since I was 17 and I am 39 now. I used steroids almost daily till I was 30 when I got sudden severe cataracts in both eyes. Then there was a lovely couple of years where I had to get off the steroid creams and I suffered the most horrendous 9 months of rebound reaction with almost no skin on my face, constant oozing and weeping.

Finally Protopic came out when I was pregnant with my second kid, and suffering badly again(pregnancy buggers up my eczema something awful.) The dr kept telling me, “Just wait till you’ve had the baby and weaned it, there is a new drug, there is hope!” So I have been using Protopic for nearly four years now. I have to say my life has been revolutionised - no more weeping episodes, no major infections and not more than a few dozen sleepless nights of itching since then. I have worked out that I can use Protopic about once in five to seven days and it keeps the worst of the eczema at bay and doesn’t burn again when I reapply it. So I have been using it like that for maybe three years now - am I up to the four year limit??

Logically I think not, not when compared to the amounts some people need to use, and the frequency is so low compared to the once or twice a day recommendation.

But reading stuff like this does scare me. What the hell would I do without it???

Broomstick, those were awesome posts.

Thank you.

I couldn’t find anything about this in the high-power medical literature we have a work, but I’ll take another look next week - something might be published in the meanwhile.

Also remember the FDA is under some heat right now over the painkiller issue. This might be in part them wanting to look “proactive” on an issue, or someone might have an axe to grind - it does happen.

Remember, too that there are some very therapeutic toxins. For example, botulinum is one of the most potent toxins known - and it’s used as wrinkle remover for purely cosmetic purposes (among other things, which are more in the line of “medically necessary”). The minute quantities used in Botox cause minimal problems, if that. Likewise, at extremely high doses, such as used by organ recipients, ALL immuno-suppressants carry an elevated risk of cancer - but what’s used in Elidel is very, very small compared to that. It’s the difference between laying out in the tropical sun for 12 hours versus 10 minutes exposure to the sun in Fairbanks, Alaska in April.

Although I am not a doctor I am an eczema sufferer. I would willingly use Elidel again to take care of an outbreak. If a child is the patient of course speak to your child’s doctor about any concern you may have. But weigh the risks AND benefits - untreated eczema can be horrid, as all too many of us know, and not just from appearances.

Thank you very much, Broomstick - I really appreciate all the work you’ve done.