Clofazimine Curbs Cutaneous Lesions in Lupus

More study needed, but drug may be option if chloroquine is contraindicated

THURSDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Clofazimine works as well as chloroquine diphosphate to control cutaneous lesions in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, according to a study in the October issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Elaine Lira Medeiros Bezerra of the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Brazil, conducted the double-blind clinical trial on 33 lupus patients with active cutaneous lesions.

Sixteen patients were randomized to receive 100 mg/day of clofazimine, and 17 received 250 mg/day of chloroquine for six months. Both groups used broad-spectrum sunscreens, and stable prednisone doses.

Five clofazimine-treated patients and one chloroquine-treated patient dropped out due to severe lupus flare-ups. Of the 27 who finished six months of treatment, 12 on clofazimine and 14 on chloroquine had "complete or near-complete remission of skin lesions," the authors write. Many had skin and gastrointestinal side-effects, but none discontinued treatment.

Because of the small study size and lack of long-term data, more study is needed to confirm the findings. It's not known if clofazimine was responsible for the lupus flares, so the drug should be reserved for "lupus patients with exclusively cutaneous lesions and with contraindications to chloroquine," the researchers conclude.

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