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Ciclosporin vs. clobetasol in the topical management of atrophic and erosive oral lichen planus: a double-blind, randomized controlled trial.

BACKGROUND: Oral lichen planus (OLP) is a chronic inflammatory disease that can be painful, especially in the atrophic and erosive forms. Several drugs have been used with varying results, but most treatments are empirical, and do not have adequate control groups or correct study designs.

OBJECTIVES: To compare the effectiveness of clobetasol and ciclosporin in the topical management of OLP and to evaluate which is more cost-effective and which gives the longest remission from signs and symptoms.

METHODS: A randomized, comparative, double-blind study was designed. Forty consecutive patients were divided into two groups to receive clobetasol propionate or ciclosporin for 2 months. Both drugs were placed in 4% hydroxyethyl cellulose bioadhesive gel. Antimycotic prophylaxis was also given. After the end of therapy, patients underwent a 2-month follow-up.

RESULTS: Eighteen of 19 clobetasol-treated patients (95%) improved after 2 months of therapy, while 13 of 20 ciclosporin-treated patients (65%) had a clinical response (P = 0.04). Symptomatology improved in 18 clobetasol-treated patients (95%) and in 17 ciclosporin-treated patients (85%) (not statistically significantly different). Two months after the end of therapy, 33% of clobetasol-treated patients and 77% of ciclosporin-treated patients were stable (P = 0.04). Clobetasol produced significantly more side-effects than ciclosporin (P = 0.04). The daily cost of ciclosporin treatment was 1.82 compared with 0.35 for clobetasol therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: Clobetasol is more effective than ciclosporin in inducing clinical improvement, but the two drugs have comparable effects on symptoms. Conversely, clobetasol gives less stable results than ciclosporin when therapy ends and has shown a higher incidence of side-effects. The daily cost of ciclosporin is more than five times higher than clobetasol.

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