Oral alitretinoin treatment in patients with palmoplantar pustulosis inadequately responding to standard topical treatment: a randomized phase II study

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Palmoplantar pustulosis (PPP) is an inflammatory, debilitating skin disease. Topical drugs and systemic immunosuppressive agents are often ineffective. Previous uncontrolled studies have suggested that alitretinoin could be a meaningful treatment option for PPP.


The primary objective was to determine response to alitretinoin for the treatment of PPP based on the Palmoplantar Pustulosis Area and Severity Index (PPPASI) after 24 weeks of treatment.


A phase II, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study. Adult patients with PPP (with or without psoriasis) refractory to topical therapy and standard skin care were randomized 2:1 to alitretinoin 30 mg once daily or placebo for up to 24 weeks. The primary end point was PPPASI at week 24 (or the last visit in case of early withdrawal). Secondary end points included: percentage change from baseline in the modified Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (mPASI); percentage of patients with ≥ 50% or 75% improvement in PPPASI or mPASI scores from baseline; change in pustule count on the palms and soles; change in the Nail Psoriasis Severity Index and safety and tolerability assessments.


Thirty-three patients were randomized: 24 patients to alitretinoin 30 mg and nine to placebo. Overall, there were no significant differences between alitretinoin 30 mg and placebo for any end point. The safety profile was consistent with that seen in patients with chronic severe hand eczema refractory to potent topical corticosteroids.


Although the results were unexpected based on previous studies of alitretinoin in the treatment of PPP, this study provided no evidence to support further exploration of alitretinoin in the treatment of severe PPP.

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