Topical clindamycin for acne vulgaris: analysis of gastrointestinal events

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The Journal of dermatological treatment


Purpose: Topical clindamycin, a lincosamide antibiotic, is commonly combined with benzoyl peroxide or a retinoid for acne vulgaris (AV) treatment. While oral and topical clindamycin carry warnings/contraindications regarding gastrointestinal (GI) adverse events (AEs), real-world incidence of GI AEs with topical clindamycin is unknown. This review provides background information and an overview of safety data of topical clindamycin for treating AV.

Materials and Methods: Available safety data from published literature, previously unpublished worldwide pharmacovigilance data, and two retrospective cohort studies were reviewed.

Results and Conclusions: According to pharmacovigilance data, the rate of GI adverse drug reactions with topical clindamycin-containing products was 0.000045% (64/141,084,533). Results from two retrospective medical record studies of patients with AV indicated that physicians prescribe topical clindamycin equally to patients with or without inflammatory bowel disease history, and that rates of pseudomembranous colitis in these patients were low. In 8 published pivotal clinical trials of topical clindamycin for AV, GI AEs were reported in 1.4% of participants. Limitations include under/inaccurate reporting of AEs or prescription data and limited generalizability. This review of published case reports, worldwide pharmacovigilance data, retrospective US prescription data, and clinical trials safety data demonstrates that the incidence of colitis in patients exposed to topical clindamycin is extremely low.

Medical Subject Headings

Humans; Clindamycin; Retrospective Studies; Acne Vulgaris; Anti-Bacterial Agents; Benzoyl Peroxide

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